Envoys ask govt to strengthen foreign ministry, missions

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 6, 2017-

Nepal’s ambassadors to India, China and the United States have suggested strengthening the Foreign Ministry as well as the Nepali missions abroad to tap the “vast opportunities” for Nepal in the three countries.

During a meeting of the Labour and International Relations Committee of Parliament on Thursday, where they were invited to suggest ways to strengthen Nepal’s diplomacy in New Delhi, Beijing and Washington DC, the envoys pointed out several shortcomings in handling foreign affairs from Kathmandu. They jointly told the meeting, which the House panel claimed to be the first of its kind, that Nepal should adopt pro-active diplomacy, strengthen the capability of its missions, hire more diplomats and support staff, and provide the missions with strong backing from Kathmandu.

Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay said that he had found numerous illusions about Nepal in the neighbouring country which could be corrected through several means yet to be employed. By pursuing “quiet diplomacy”, Nepal could allay such misconceptions among Indian citizens and officials, he said.

For this, frequent high-level visits are necessary, he stressed. “If we pursue our agenda rightly, it is not impossible even to review the Koshi, Gandak and Mahakali treaties,” Upadhyay said.

Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal said Nepal has failed to seize the opportunities from China particularly those offered by the Belt and Road Initiative even as several neighbours like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have benefited greatly from their relations with Beijing. Outlining potential areas of cooperation under the BRI and the prospects of tourism, he called for Nepal’s speedy participation in the Chinese connectivity project.

Paudyal stressed the need for more investment in tourism infrastructure in order to attract Chinese tourists. “We need an aggressive policy of promoting our goods in China which can be a vast market for Nepali goods at a time when China has given zero tariff access to 7,000 Nepali products,” he said.

Nepal’s Ambassador to the United States Arjun Karki said there had been no improvements in 30 years in the way the Nepali Embassy in Washington functions. “Our mechanisms in Washington and Kathmandu are not capable of handling the new opportunities emerging in the US,” he said. “Our foreign policy is running on an ad hoc basis. This needs to change immediately.”

Parliamentary committee member Shyam Shrestha told the Post that the feedback received from the ambassadors would be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for implementation.

Published: 06-10-2017 07:39

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