Nepal’s new charter a milestone: UK

  • But urges Kathmandu to agree a political position that meets concerns of all Nepali citizens
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 18, 2015-

The United Kingdom has welcomed Nepal’s new constitution as a significant milestone, while urging the government to bring everyone on board the political process.This comes a month after a UK-India joint statement during the London visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stressing the importance of “a lasting and inclusive constitutional settlement in Nepal that will address the remaining areas of concern and promote political stability and economic growth”. Nepal had immediately protested the statement.

While marking the UK-Nepal bicentenary—200 years of diplomatic relations—in London and in the meeting with visiting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire commended the new constitution of Nepal.

Addressing the function, according to the Office, Swire said challenges remain, “but I hope peaceful dialogue and compromise will continue”—both to remove the blockages and to agree a political position that meets the concerns of all Nepali citizens. “Just as we did after the earthquake earlier this year, just as we have over the past two centuries, the UK stands ready to assist in any way we can.”

Speaking at the reception, Minister Swire said: As the son-in-law of a former Gurkha officer, Nepal is particularly close to my heart--as it is to the hearts of many people across the United Kingdom. “The bicentenary year will not only be an excellent platform on which to look back at our rich, shared history and celebrate our close ties. It will spur us on to strengthen our partnership for the future.”

He said the UK hopes that the National Reconstruction Authority Bill approved in Nepal will help speed up reconstruction following the devastating earthquake

in April.Similarly, International Development Minister of UK Desmond Swayne said that this year demonstrated the strength and importance of the UK’s friendship with Nepal. When the devastating earthquakes struck, “we were quick to help the Nepali people in their time of need” with essential support including shelter, water and blankets.

“We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nepal through its recovery and look forward to continuing our 200-year-long partnership.”Swayne said the UK-Nepal relationship has many strands, including vibrant people-to-people links with over 80,000 Nepali diaspora in the UK and more than 30,000 British tourists visiting Nepal each year. The UK and Nepal share many international interests from climate change to peacekeeping and protecting civilians in conflict-ridden countries.

As Nepal’s largest bilateral donor, the UK remains fully committed to providing humanitarian assistance and for the reconstruction process, he said.

DPM Thapa wrote on Facebook that he had fruitful and productive discussions with senior British officials on the latest political situation of Nepal, the constitutional process and the crisis after the Indian embargo.

He claimed to have raised the issue of Nepali soldiers facing unequal pay and pension in the British Army and the issue of Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama.

“I urged British officials to implement the report prepared by a British MP to provide equal pay and pensions to the Nepalis serving in the British Army,” Thapa stated.

Thapa told British officials that the case of Col Lama would be taken up by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that has been formed to deal with war-era crimes. British officials reportedly told Thapa that they would address the concerns of unequal perks and speak to the law minister about Col Lama’s case that is sub judice in a British court.In the meeting with Secretary Hammond, Thapa handed over an invitation extended by Prime Minister KP Oli to his British

counterpart David Cameron to visit Nepal. Hammond said a high-level visit is expected from the UK to Nepal next year.

 

Published: 18-12-2015 09:29

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