National interests must guide Nepal’s foreign policy: Experts

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 19:

On the eve of King Gyanendra’s visit to Indonesia to participate in the Afro-Asian conference, foreign affairs experts including a former foreign minister, suggested that Nepal’s foreign policy be guided by national interests and should be on the basis of international norms and values. They said so at an interaction organised by the Media Group Nepal. “This will be the first multilateral conference the King will take part in as the Head of the State, so his participation should give a message (to the international community) that Nepal wishes to play a significant role in international peace, and also wants to be a beneficiary,” said former foreign minister Dr Bhekh Bahadur Thapa.

Referring to the King’s visit to China (after Indonesia) to participate in the annual conference of Boao Forum for Asia, former secretary general of SAARC Dr Yadav Kant Silwal, said a “balanced” foreign policy was needed in the new scenario because India and China are the emerging economic powers in Asia”. “The King should not only win the Nepali people’s heart but also the heart of the international community,” said Silwal. According to him, “just participating in a multilateral forum will not boost Nepal’s stature, but significant progress should be made on the home front too”. Chairman of the Nepal Council of World Affairs, Keshav Raj Jha, said it was time to take stock of the last 50 years and formulate a roadmap for the next 50 years regarding the foreign policy.

Referring to the September 11, he said, “The context has changed and Nepal should assess the role she can play in facing the growing threat of terrorism. If the King’s visit succeeds on assessing that role, it would be a milestone in Nepal’s history of foreign policy.” Stating that Nepal and the African countries have hardly had any close relations, Silwal suggested the King use the forum to gain the African support for Nepal for the non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Foreign affairs expert Hiranyalal Shrestha said, “Home and foreign policies are interdependent, so the major agenda of King’s visit should be peace through development.” Pointing out that the Afro-Asian conference and Boao Forum are an opportunity to regain the confidence of the international community, he said, “Friendly countries should be made aware of the ground realities at home.”