KATHMANDU: US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, who met with Nepal’s political leaders and discussed a host of issues, most importantly, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), said that the United States will not compel Nepal to ratify the MCC but would suggest the South Asian country take a “consultative and democratic approach” to endorse it.
Talking to select journalists in Kathmandu prior to his departure on Friday, Lu, however, said that the United States is “concerned and little surprised” that there have been lots of disinformation about MCC in Nepal.
“It’s a little surprising that disinformation has been rife about the grant,” Lu said adding, “If Nepal does not take the grant, we will spend the money in some other country. And, it’s okay with us if Nepal does not endorse it.”
He also dismissed media reports that he had set a deadline of December 14 to endorse MCC during his meetings with Nepali leaders, particularly with CPN-Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.
“No, we did not set any deadline,” Lu said adding, “We told them (leaders) to take a consultative and democratic approach to reach a final decision on the grant to ensure that all voices are accommodated.”
Lu said he was “impressed” with the enthusiasm of Nepali leaders, including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba about the grant, mitigating climate change, clean energy, among other issues, but hinted that most of the leaders talked about forging consensus with all political parties.
He also said that the United States wants a good relationship with Nepal and its neighbors, including China and India.
“We need to grasp the opportunity in the relationship between Nepal and the US,” Lu said adding that the United States wants to do engage in more business with Nepal since “Nepal’s economic development, independence and sovereignty are important for the United States.”
According to him, the United States also wants to deal with Nepal in an independent way.
On yet another issue, Lu said he does not really understand Nepal’s what he said “complicated” politics.
Meanwhile, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Keiderling said that the United States doesn’t look at Nepal and other South Asian countries together with India.
“We look at them separately. That’s why I came here,” she said.
Prachanda is an interesting person
Meanwhile, Lu, who held a discussion with Maoist Chairman Prachanda on Friday afternoon said, “I found him (Prachanda) very interesting. He is an interesting person.”
Earlier in the afternoon, US Assistant Secretary of State Lu is learned to have urged Prachanda to reach an early decision on the US grant assistance and reminded him of the timeline of the agreement.
In response, Prachanda drew the attention of the visiting official towards some of the provisions deemed controversial.
Prachanda said efforts were being made to reach a common understanding about MCC.
During his two-day visit to Nepal, US Assistant Secretary Lu met with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli, and Foreign Minister Dr. Narayan Khadka, among others.