United States seeks Nepal’s help in resolving Korean peninsula problem

Kathmandu December 24

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked Nepal to use its good offices to cajole the North Korean leadership into signing deals that could help denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

The US Secretary of State sought Nepal’s help last week in his talks with Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali in the US capital Washington DC.

According to a Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Standing Committee member, Gyawali revealed this to party leaders on Saturday at the SC meeting.

NCP Standing Committee member Haribol Gajurel said that the US might have sought Nepal’s role thinking Nepal’s communist government might have some leverage with North Korea and that could help denuclearise the Korean peninsula. Gajurel was a member of the group led by senior NCP leader and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal when he visited North Korea in August to tell government officials and leaders not to remain isolated and to be a part of the global community by developing friendly relations with all countries. “The US official told our Nepali delegation that Nepal could help create a conducive environment to ease the peace process,” Gajurel told THT.

When Nepal returned from North Korea in August, he publicly said he had also played a role in bringing Kim to the negotiating table with Trump.

Following dialogue between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, Trump wanted Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. International media reported that the US President spoke of the Nobel peace prize for his own role in the dialogue with the once dubbed ‘hermit regime’. US and North Korea have not been able to start dialogue after the June meeting.

According to a Standing Committee member who heard Gyawali’s briefing, US Secretary of State Pompeo told the Nepali side, “In a bilateral meeting between US and North Korea, Kim was positive about resolving the problems but his loyalists were not that positive, Nepal has relations with North Korea as well. We expect your effort to improve our relations and you can play a catalyst role in the Korean peninsula issues.”

But the Nepali delegation did not agree to the American proposal immediately. Gyawali said Nepal government would do all it could to help denuclearise the Korean peninsula, but the government would first forge national consensus on the proposal.

Addressing a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, Gyawali said that the issues of the Korean peninsula and ongoing effort to ensure denuclearisation in the region were discussed during his meeting with Pompeo. Gyawali did not interpret the issues beyond this in the press conference.

NCP co-chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal had cancelled his trip to North Korea in September as his visit coincided with his trip to India.  Dahal was set to visit North Korea with the consent of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on the occasion of the country’s National Day on September 9. Following the cancellation of his North Korea visit Dahal visited India and China in September.

During his meeting with Dahal and former prime minister and senior NCP leader Madhav Kumar Nepal at the party headquarters in Perisdanda on July 9, North Korean Ambassador to Nepal Kim Yong Hak had extended an invitation to Dahal on behalf of Chairman Kim for a visit to North Korea.