A high-level team of the United States government led by Fatema Z Sumar, vice-president of Department of Compact Operations, US, met KP Sharma Oli today and sought his party's support for parliamentary approval of the agreement.

Sumar's visit took place a day after she wrote to Minister of Finance Janardan Sharma responding to the Nepal government's questions regarding the $500 million grant project over which political parties and civil society members are divided.

According to UML leader Rajan Bhattarai, Oli told Sumar that when he led the government, he tried to get the MCC agreement ratified by the Parliament, but he did not get enough support from political parties and leaders.

Oli said in the changed context his party was in the opposition now. "The incumbent government has not sought our help to pass the MCC agreement and since the government enjoys majority in the Parliament, it may not need our support and perhaps that could be the reason why the government has not sought our help so far," Bhattarai quoted Oli as telling the American team.

Oli said although there were some reservations on the agreement within the CPN-UML, he moved the agreement ahead as he believed that agreements signed between two countries should be respected even if they were signed by the previous government.

"We had already tabled the agreement in the Parliament for its approval, but it could not move ahead due to the speaker's negative role.

Now we are in opposition and have a different role to play. We cannot do now what we had done when we were a ruling party. You know what the roles of the ruling and opposition parties are in a democracy," Oli told Sumar.

According to Bhattarai, Sumar told Oli that the MCC agreement was signed after a long discussion and she did not anticipate that controversy would surround the MCC agreement now. The MCC team is expected to hold meetings with other stakeholders in Kathmandu including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

After meeting Oli, Sumar wrote on Twitter: "What an exciting first day in Nepal, hearing from and speaking with Nepalis. Open, honest and transparent dialog is the key to our partnership, and the public release of #MCC's response to the Government of #Nepal is part of these efforts."

Sumar also separately met Chair of CPN (Unified Socialist) Madhav Kumar Nepal.

CPN (Unified Socialist) Spokesperson Jagannath Khatiwada told THT that his party's stance on MCC would be based on the report of CPN-UML task force led by Jhalanath Khanal.

He said his party welcomed the responses sent by Sumar to Nepal government and would arrive at a position vis-à-vis the deal after holding a party meeting.

Another CPN (Unified Socialist) party leader Ganga Lal Tuladhar said his party leaders mainly listened to Sumar's views and did not tell her their party's stance on the MCC agreement.

"We were not supposed to tell the American team what our stance visà-vis MCC agreement is.

We have neither discussed the issue in the five-party alliance nor within our own party," he said. Khatiwada said Sumar was likely to hold a zoom meeting with all the party leaders tomorrow.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 10 2021, of The Himalayan Times.