Analysts differ on Carter visit significance

Kathmandu, June 22:

The four-day visit of the former US President Jimmy Carter is reverberating in diplomatic and political circles with consequences yet to filter down while significance and importance is being variously rated and analysed.

While those professing Maoists’ views have concluded that Carter has “set new trend in the US stance vis-a-vis Nepal,” others feel that things cannot be “expected to change the way the Maoist leadership would want.”

“The Carter visit has stirred regional politics. I am saying this based on what came from US

envoy to Nepal James F Moriarty yesterday. I have sensed a lot,” said Dr Rishi Raj Baral, a member of the CPN-Maoist Foreign Policy Division. He now heads Nepal Television.

He also referred to what the newly appointed Chinese envoy to Nepal Zheng Xianglin said hot on the heels of the Carter visit. Xianglin had, among others, said that China would continue to “enhance bilateral relations irrespective of the parties in government.”

This is being linked with longstanding position adopted by the US administration that the Maoists should not be believed too much, something which the US envoy too has been saying time and again. Carter had visited the region in 1980. Dr Baral opined that Xianglin’s remark meant China was “with us” and reinforcing its presence at a time when Carter paid the visit. “There are very few instances of Chinese diplomats speaking the way he spoke.”

However, centrist forces have their own view. NC(D) leader Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat downplayed the significance, saying he did not want to link the reactions coming from Moriarty and Xianglin as something which have been said in reference to the situation created by Carter’s visit.

Dr Mahat said that US policy vis-a-vis the Maoists cannot be expected to change overnight.

However, former Foreign Minister Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani said that Carter ended up stirring the regional politics in a subtle manner the way the US has been stirring it ever since the 1950s.