Mann for peace sans Maoist threat

Kathmandu, October 6:

Considering the ongoing efforts for peace negotiations in the country, Nepal’s focus should be on achieving meaningful peace that “firmly respects” multi-party democracy and does not have a place for the Maoists’ intimidation, coercion and violence, said visiting US official Steven R Mann, principal deputy assistant secretary (PDAS) for South and Central Asian Affairs.

The US, according to him, is committed to supporting Nepal in the peace process and democratic transition. Much is at stake and it is not going to be an easy negotiation for Nepal

and there are clearly difficult issues in hand, he said. The concerned parties will have to resolve the issues.

“As a negotiator, I have never seen a negotiation without one side giving up certain things which is a law of negotiations,” he said at a press meet organised by the American Center, Embassy of the United States here today.

Any successful negotiation must be characterized by “strict observance of commitments” made in the negotiations and no negotiations can succeed without “compromise from all parties”, he said. The situation in Nepal will not be an exception.

Part of the peace process in Nepal has to be arms management but the views of the Nepalis on the peace process is more important than what the US thinks. “This is a period of great promise for Nepal but it is a promise that can only be achieved with determination, insight and sincerity throughout the peace process,” said Mann.

On the Maoists still being on the US terror list, he said, the only way for the Maoists to get off the list is through their actions and their fundamental change. “If there is no change (in their actions), how can anyone expect the US to change its position?” he questioned.

Dismissing the possibility of the US strategic interest in Nepal due to geo-politics, Mann said, the US, according to its foreign policies, is looking for good partners who are for the rule of law and fight against terrorism. “It is our hope and belief that Nepal can become our even stronger partner,” he said.

On the third country settlement of Bhutanese refugees to the US, Mann said: “The US is indeed willing to resettle 50,000 Bhutanese refugees in the next three to four years but we also need to look at the issue of those who are for repatriation to Bhutan,” he said.

Mann termed the peace efforts and the political parties’ want to resolve the conflict striking. On behalf of PM Girija Prasad Koirala, he met Sushil Koirala, vice-president of Nepali Congress and also met Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula. He left Nepal today and will stop in New Delhi on his way back to the US.