Britain to help restructure Defence Ministry

KATHMANDU: British Army Chief General Sir David Julian Richards today said there is a need to make the Nepali Army more professional and to restructure Nepal’s Defence Ministry.

In a meeting with Defence Minister Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Gen Richards, who is on a six-day official visit here, said that the United Kingdom would soon send a task force to Nepal to study how it could help restructure the Defence Ministry and provide training to NA personnel.

According to Subash Devkota, press advisor to Minister Bhandari, Gen Richards said that the UK would help on the basis of the report prepared by the task force.

Political pundits in the country have been saying that restructuring of the Defence Ministry, which means making it more efficient, is the first step to maintaining democratic control on the NA.

The Defence Ministry had recently formed a committee to look into the restructuring aspect of the Ministry. Both the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution have stated that there was a need to democratise the NA and make it more professional.

Minister Bhandari said the UK should resume military aid to Nepal. Gen Richard is positive on resuming the military assistance stalled since 2005. Richards, however, said that the UK would wait for the report of the task for the resumption of the assistance. The duo also discussed ways to strengthen ties between the two countries.

India has already resumed its military assistance to Nepali Army partially while the United States has asked the NA to fulfil some conditions on human rights to resume its military assistance.

India, the United Kingdom, China and the United States are major counties that provide various assistance to the NA.

Gen Richards also called on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and discussed bilateral issues.

He also held bilateral talks with Chief of Army Staff Chhatra Man Singh Gurung at the NA headquarters. He is scheduled to wrap up his visit tomorrow.