Forge consensus on foreign policy: House panel

Kathmandu, Oct 14

The International Relations and Labour Committee of the Legislature-Parliament has directed the government to take immediate steps to forge national consensus on the country’s foreign policy.

The committee has also directed the government to forge national consensus and make necessary preparations for the revision of 1950 Nepal-India Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and pursue peaceful and robust diplomacy.

According to the House panel, India seems to be in agreement on sharing equal benefits from the Gandak project, but Nepal itself has been delaying the detailed project report. “The committee directs the government to prepare the DPR of the project at the earliest,” states the committee’s report.

Stating that India has been exhibiting flexibility on Nepal’s stand on the Pancheshwor project, the committee directed the government to make the objective of obtaining benefits from the project as a sovereign country a part of Nepal’s revised foreign policy.

The committee has also directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries concerned to immediately initiate talks with India on resolving the issue of flooding in the Nepali territory due to embankments built by India along the border.

On China relations, the committee concluded that Nepal had not been seriously working to gain optimum benefit from China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

“Therefore, the committee directs the government to pursue diplomatic relations with China keeping the OBOR at its centre,” the report reads.

Sating that foreign investors complained of lack of investment-friendly environment in the country, the committee recommended that the government shorten the process of investment approval and make it hassle-free. It also recommended that the government make foreign investment a criteria based on which the performance of an ambassador should be evaluated.

To boost exports and reduce trade deficit, the government has been directed to immediately devise long- and short-term plans to increase exports to the United States, which has offered duty-free, quota-free market access to Nepal-made products.

The committee has also recommended that the government strictly enforce the diplomatic code of conduct that bars the foreign minister, ministry officials, ambassadors, and other ministers and government officials from making unnecessary public comments on foreign affairs.

It has also recommended that ambassadors be appointed from among diplomatic officials and the practice of making ambassadorial appointments on the basis of political sharing be ended.

The committee’s recommendations and directives are based on ‘Special Parliamentary Discussion’ held on October 5 on how Nepal should reshape its foreign policy to make it relevant in the global context.

The meeting was attended by former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi, Nepali Congress leaders Sujata Koirala and Ram Sharan Mahat, CPN-ML General Secretary CP Mainali, Nepal’s Ambassador to the US Arjun Kumar Karki, Nepal’s Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay, and foreign relations experts, among others.