Maoists to talk to US after lifting of terror tag: Gajurel

Kathmandu, June 17:

Chief of the CPN-Maoist’s foreign department CP Gajurel said today that his party would be ready to hold talks with US officials if the Bush administration lifted the terrorist tag slapped on his party.

“Former US president Jimmy Carter’s meeting with our party chairman Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai and the former’s statement that it is inappropriate to keep the Maoists on the US terrorist list is a proof that the Bush administration’s policy towards us was wrong,” Gajurel said at the Reporters’ Club.

He said that he also met Carter and found him to be a very simple and honest person. “Carter’s commitment towards the Maoists was a significant political event in Nepal’s context,” he said.

Gajurel also said that he had shaken hands with the US Ambassador to Nepal, James F Moriarty, as a courtesy at a dinner. “He (Moriarty) said at a function that his hands seemed just like stones after shaking hands with me. But I did not feel anything wrong after shaking hands with him,” he said, adding talks with the US officials would not be possible without the Bush administration changing its policy towards his party.

Gajurel said there was still doubt that the constituent assembly election would be held by mid-December, as the royalists, Hindu fundamentalists and the USA wanted to keep the monarchy despite people’s desire for a republican order.

“We still say that the agenda of keeping monarchy intact will be gone forever once the country is declared a republic,” he said.

NC foreign department chief Sujata Koirala urged the Maoists to give up their aggressive attitude. She said Carter’s visit had created a new situation in the country. She said that the Home Ministry and the Home Minister had failed to maintain law and order, especially in the Tarai, where normal life was in a shambles due to frequent bandhs.

Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply Rajendra Mahato said that the next cabinet meeting would decide the exact date for assembly polls. He added that the polls would be held tentatively within November 14.

Bhim Rawal, a UML central committee member, said that nationality would be in peril if the internal conflict and criminal activities went on unabated. “International assistance is necessary to promote peace process and hold the assembly elections, but it is up to the Nepali people to decide their political future.” “During the meeting with Carter, we mainly discussed the security situation, possibility of conducting CA polls in November-December,” Rawal said. He said they also asked Carter to send in at least one international election observer in each of the rural polling stations.