Powell doubts timely integration of armies:PM hints at UNMIN extension once again

Kathmandu, March 23:

US ambassador Nancy J Powell, Australian ambassador Susan Grace and Israeli ambassador Dan Stav separately met with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal on Monday. They discussed bilateral issues as well as the ongoing peace process. At the end of the meeting, Hira Bahadur Thapa, foreign policy advisor to the PM, told mediapersons that Powell expressed doubts whether the government would be able to integrate and rehabilitate the Maoist combatants in the next six months.

The issue of Maoist combatants should be settled within six months as the third extended mandate of UNMIN will expire in June and its further extension needs to be approved by the government as well as the UN Security Council.

Thapa said Powell met the PM and raises the issue as the UN Security Council was reviewing the UNMIN’s mid-term report in April.

In response to Powell’s query, PM Dahal reportedly told her that the government and the parties would be positive on extending UNMIN’s tenure for the fourth time if the integration and rehabilitation process did not complete on time.

The US envoy had also queried whether the government decision not to extend the tenure of eight army generals and recruitment drives of personnel in both the Nepali Army and People’s Liberation Army would have an adverse impact on the peace process. Thapa quoted the PM as telling her that the controversies would not affect the peace process as the Special Committee was working on the integration issue on a consensus basis.

During his visit with the PM, Israeli ambassador Stav is learnt to have expressed his country’s willingness to cooperate with Nepal on agriculture, cooperatives and telecom sectors.

“Israel is also positive on hiring more Nepali labourers in the care-giving sector in Israel,” Thapa quoted Stav as saying.