We have been doing this in Nepal for 72 years; it is what diplomats do, it is who we are
Kathmandu, May 22
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken exception to United States Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry’s planned weekly engagement with Nepali people on social media.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said there was no practice in Nepal in which ambassadors interacted with Nepali people on the social media, and that such engagements would only invite unnecessary controversy.
“We think such kind of engagement is not needed. If the embassy has anything to say, it can directly talk to the government,” Gyawali told THT.
Posting a video on the embassy’s official Twitter and Facebook pages on Monday, Berry said he was starting a weekly video series called ‘GuffGaff with the Ambassador’ to hear and answer questions from around four million followers of the embassy’s social media handles.
The embassy’s Facebook post read, “What would you ask Ambassador Berry if you had the chance? We are letting random people ask random questions, and we will share those exchanges in a weekly video series called ‘GuffGaff with the Ambassador’. Stay tuned for our first video—new ones will be posted on Mondays!”
However, Berry’s initiative resulted in mixed reactions on the social media, with most observers taking a critical approach, stating that it was not in line with diplomatic norms and principles.
Former foreign secretary Madhu Raman Acharya wrote in a Twitter post: “Diplomatic activism of foreign ambassadors increases when the Government does not sufficiently engage and brief them on the recent developments. So the rule is: keep them engaged or they will find themselves ways to be engaged!”
However, the US embassy said it was part of its public diplomacy. “A core function of diplomacy is to engage with people, understand them and their priorities, and build connections with them. We have been doing this in Nepal for 72 years; it is what diplomats do, it is who we are,” the embassy said in a statement issued today.
A version of this article appears in print on May 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.