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US is not interested in games to put Nepal at risk, US envoy says

  • Randy Berry, in an in-depth interview, said Washington sees Nepal as a partner and will treat it like one.
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Apr 15, 2019-

American Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry said the United States wants to see Nepal as a country with a stable, democratic and inclusive government and economic growth.

In an interview with The Kathmandu Post, the US envoy, who arrived in Kathmandu six months ago, spoke at length about the priorities of American government in Nepal and about geopolitical issues, Nepal-US ties, investment conditions for US companies and Indo-Pacific strategy among others.

“We are not interested in games that would put Nepal’s national security interests at risk,” he said. “What we want here is a stable, democratic, responsive, inclusive government.”

[Read the full interview with the US ambassador]

When asked to elaborate on the official statement from the State Department mentioning Nepal’s central role in a free and open Indo-Pacific, Berry said: “there is a lot of misinformation out in the public sphere.”

“I feel that there is a reductionist tendency here to make this policy fit in a box that makes it seem like a counter-proposal to [China’s] One Belt One Road initiative,” he said. “These are not the same things and I would challenge anyone who says that they are.”

A section of Western nations, including the US, and India have not joined the China-led Belt and Road Initiative. Nepal signed up to the initiative in 2017 and is currently negotiating various projects under the global infrastructure plan.

During his Nepal visit in February, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, Joe Felter had told journalists that Chinese investment should be designed to serve the interest of Nepal and not just China.

Berry, during the interview, echoed Felter.

“Nepal needs a good, strong relationship with all its neighbours, including China,” said Berry. “For the economic growth and development, which this country and its people richly deserve, you have to have investment from your neighbours,” he added. “The scrutiny that we have encouraged is not Chinese-specific,” Berry said. “It is specific to any country that is implementing their programme in Nepal, ourselves included.”

 

Published: 16-04-2019 07:00

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