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Boucher in Nepal

world Updated: Feb 12, 2009 05:57 IST
Anirban Roy

While Nepal’s Maoist-led government is caught in a series of crisis, US Assistant Secretary for State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher on Wednesday arrived in Kathmandu on a two-day visit.

Boucher reached Kathmandu after a short visit of Bhutan. This is his first visit to Nepal after the formation of the new Maoist-led government.

In December last year, Boucher had postponed a routine trip to Nepal as he had to accompany the then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India.

Though the US officials described Boucher’s visit to Nepal as “routine”, the government is closely watching the trip seriously as it may decide the US policies on Maoist-led Nepal after Barak Obama taking over as the US President.

In fact, Washington has always been treating the Maoists as “terrorists” and not as revolutionaries. The organisation still features in the US’s list of international terrorists.

After joining the political mainstream in Nepal, the Maoists have been requesting the US administration to drop the organisation from the list of international terrorists. The US government is yet to decide on it.

Speaking to newsmen at Tribhuwan International airport, the US Assistant Secretary of State said his visit is primarily to discuss latest political development in Nepal. “I will also review the progress of drafting of the new constitution and achievements in the ongoing peace process,” he said.

It would be interesting to note as to how Boucher reacts to the Maoists’ move to integrate the soldiers of Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) with the Nepal Army. The national army is fighting tooth-and-nail to stop the integration process.

Soon after his arrival, Boucher started meeting representatives of the government, including PM Prachanda, leaders of political parties and civil society and is discuss about Nepal’s political transition.

The US Assistant Secretary of State is also scheduled to meet President Ram Baran Yadav, Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal said that Boucher is also likely to meet Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala and Communist Party of Nepal (UML) General Secretary Jhalanath Khanal.

Surprisingly, the US Ambassador to Nepal, Nancy J. Powell, at present, is in Washington for routine meetings at the Department of State.