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Boucher cancels visit to Nepal

world Updated: Dec 04, 2008 17:03 IST
Anirban Roy

As China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi completed his three-day visit to Nepal, the US government announced the suspension of the visit of Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.

Boucher was scheduled to reach Kathmandu on December 9, and was supposed to have a series of meetings with Prime Minister Prachanda and other senior leaders of different political parties.

Suresh Prasad Pradhan, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal told Hindustan Times on Thursday that the US Embassy in Kathmandu informed them about the suspension of Boucher’s visit.

“We have no idea as to why he (Boucher) is not coming to Nepal,” Pradhan said, adding that the US Embassy did not cite any reason for cancellation of the visit. It was Boucher’s first visit to Nepal after formation of the Maoist-led government.

In fact, Boucher’s visit to Nepal was crucial as the US government was contemplating to drop the Maoists of Nepal from its list of terrorists.

During PM Prachanda’s first to the US, he had held a series of meetings with senior US officials and President George W. Bush, and had requested the US government to drop the Maoist’s name from the list of terrorists in view of a changed political landscape in Nepal.

Moreover, Boucher’s visit to Nepal could have given a stronger base of democratic legitimacy to the Maoist-led government.

During the last one-and-half months, several ministers from different developed western countries visited Nepal and congratulated the Maoists for giving up arms and joining the political mainstream.

In addition to Yang Jiechi, the other visitors included India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Miller, British Minister for International Development Mike Foster and South Korean Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kim Yong II.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Nepal too was a shot-in-the arm for the Maoist-led government. The British army chief, Richard Dannatt, was also in Kathmandu last week while China also sent a high-level delegation of its Army officials.