HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Foreign visits have become the bane of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, but he has remained defiant. The criticism dust over his Iran visit is yet to settle but he has already planned another foreign trip.
The prime minister will be flying to New York in September to attend the 67th United Nations General Assembly. Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The Himalayan Times that Prime Minister Bhattarai, along with his wife Hisila Yemi, will be leading over a dozen delegates to New York on September 22. He will return on September 30.
The prime minister is all set to head for Iran to participate in the 16th Non-
Alignment Movement summit in Tehran on August 29 despite criticism from a section of international community, which has been saying that such a high-profile visit would be tantamount to Nepal’s green signal to Iran’s ‘aggressive’ policy towards Israel and the West and its quest for nuclear weapons. Opposition parties too have risen to the occasion to object to the visit.
Earlier in June Bhattarai faced severe criticism for his trip to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 summit). Opposition parties had then censured him ‘for junketing around foreign countries when crisis was deepening at home’. He braved the opposition attack out then and attended the summit, and he seems ready to weather the ‘pressure diplomacy’ this time as well.
As of now, according to MoFA sources, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Foreign Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai, UN Division Chief at MoFA Dipak Dhital and Chief of Protocol Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat will be among those accompanying Bhattarai to New York in September.
Chief of Protocol Basnyat said preparation for the prime minister’s New York visit was under way and names of all the delegates would be finalised after his return from Tehran. “Hotels have been booked in New York,” said a MoFA official privy to the ongoing preparations. “The prime minister has directed not to make the delegation of more than 10 persons. But a couple more could be added,” said the officer, adding: “It usually happens when the visit date comes closer.”
It will be Prime Minister Bhattarai’s second presence at the UNGA. Bhattarai attended the 66th UNGA last year just about a month after he was elected the prime minister.