Thapa hopeful blockade will end soon

Kathmandu, December 20

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa today said that India was eager to resolve the problems arising from obstruction at the border entry points as soon as possible.

He said this at a press conference organised at Tribhuvan International Airport after he returned   from the United Kingdom.

Thapa said he was hopeful the problems of border blockade would end soon. In response to a question, Thapa said the Madhes agitation should be resolved politically. “As far as the demands of agitating Madhes-based parties are concerned, we are very close to a solution on some issues, while on other issues we are close to initiating a process for resolution,” Thapa said.

On the issue of the constitution, Thapa claimed that British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Philip Hammond, praised Nepal’s constitution and termed it a milestone, which was a very positive thing.

He said he also raised the issue of Colonel Kumar Lama, who was awaiting trial in the UK for the last three years. “Even British ministers were surprised over the lengthy trial in their country where legal procedures are normally followed strictly,” he added.

Thapa said it was the first time that two issues the issue of British Gurkhas and Kumar Lama were raised at such a high level.

Thapa said he also raised the issue of unequal pay and pension provided to British Gurkhas and the British Authorities assured they were ready to address British Gurkhas’ grievances as per the report of Inquiry chaired by Jackie Doyle-Price.

According to Thapa, the UK ministers he met expressed desire to help Nepal deal with humanitarian crisis caused by disruption of supplies due to the border blockade, but he told them he was hopeful the blockade would end soon. “I told them that in case the blockade does not end soon and we need humanitarian assistance we will seek their cooperation,” Thapa said.

He further said that his visit to the UK had helped strengthen bilateral ties further as he could discuss issues of mutual concern with UK ministers and lawmakers, besides interacting with the Nepali diasporas in Britain.

He said the UK leaders assured that the support provided to Nepal under the framework of Department for International Development (DFID) would continue in the coming years. He said DFID was preparing its assistance framework for the period 2016-2021.

He also extended Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s invitation to British Prime Minister David Cameron to visit Nepal at a mutually convenient time next year.

Thapa had visited the UK to mark the bicentenary of Nepal-UK relations.

Britain is the first country with which Nepal established diplomatic relations.