US hails UN's Nepal role

KATHMANDU: The United States has said that the United Nations (UN) has been playing a positive and active role in encouraging the peace process in Nepal.

Speaking at the Johns Hopkins University Model UN Conference yesterday, Robert O Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, said, "As the political parties negotiate a new constitution, which carries a May 28 deadline for completion, the UN continues to play a positive and active role in encouraging further progress in Nepal."

Blake also said that the UN Mission in Nepal has played an important role in monitoring the peaceful resolution of the Maoist insurgency. "Since 2006 in Nepal, we have seen the end of the monarchy and the inauguration of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, which put an end to a decade of Maoist insurgency. The UN Mission in Nepal has played an important role in providing technical support for Nepal's 2008 Constituent Assembly elections."

Nepal and three other South Asian nations — India, Pakistan and Bangladesh —are among six countries that contribute more than 5,000 police and military personnel to UN peacekeeping operations, he said.

"They have played a critical role in, for example, helping Haiti recover from the earthquake," he added.

The US also hoped to find more common ground with India, a growing world power that has a significant role to play on virtually all major challenges of the century, Blake said.

Top UN official to visit Nepal

KATHMANDU: A top United Nations official is visiting Nepal next week to discuss the country's stalled peace process, UNMIN announced here on Saturday.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe will be here from 10 to 12 March to visit the UN mission - UNMIN.

Before arriving in Nepal, he will be in India on March 9 for a one-day meeting with government officials for discussions on a range of regional and international issues related to the UN.

While in Kathmandu, he will meet senior government officials and political party leaders "to discuss the state of the peace process and encourage forward movement in the period ahead," UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.

He will also visit UNIMN, the current mandate of which runs till May 15.