Dahal likely to meet US vice president while in America for wife’s treatment

  • Nepali Embassy in Washington may foot the bill for treatment of Sita Dahal but there’s no communication yet, sources say
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Mar 18, 2019-

KATHMANDU,

Former prime minister and Co-chairman of the ruling communist party Pushpa Kamal Dahal left for the United States of America on Sunday for the treatment of his wife. Sita Dahal, who is suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, will receive treatment at the Baltimore-based John Hopkins Hospital.

During his stay in the United States, Dahal is likely to meet with some American officials. “Though I do not have any fixed programme yet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to fix some meetings. Some formal and informal meetings cannot be ruled out,” Dahal told reporters at the Tribhuvan International Airport before leaving for the US.

The visit follows a diplomatic spat between Kathmandu and Washington after Dahal issued a statement criticising the United States and its allies for interfering in Venezuela.

It had led to several weeks of unease between Singha Durbar and the US Embassy in Kathmandu, and it had even forced Dahal to postpone his planned US visit until a further date.

After several attempts to explain the statement and bring the relationship back to normal, Dahal finally decided to visit the United States.

Dahal could be meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice G Wells, among others, according to sources.

Dahal’s last visit to the United States was in 2008, after he was elected prime minister.

His wife, Sita, has been suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, also called Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome. It is believed that the disease started to take a toll on her after the death of her son Prakash Dahal in November 2017.

Progressive supranuclear palsy is an uncommon brain disorder that causes serious problems with walking, balance and eye movements. The disorder results from deterioration of cells in areas of one’s brain that control body movement and thinking.

“She may not need to be fully admitted to the hospital. She will probably undergo medical examination, therapy and medication. I will return as soon as possible,” Dahal told reporters at the airport.

Treatment at one of the most sophisticated and expensive hospitals in the US will cost millions of rupees, but it is said that Dahal himself will bear all the costs.

Multiple sources in the government confirmed that no decision had been made for bearing Sita’s treatment cost by the government.

It is also probable that the Nepali Embassy in Washington DC will pay for her treatment which will be later reimbursed by the government, sources told the Post. “But as of today, there is no communication or instruction from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Nepali Embassy in Washington DC via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard,” an official said requesting anonymity.

Earlier, the Nepali Embassy in Washington had paid treatment costs for Jagrit Prasad Bhetwal, a ruling party leader and former prime minister Jhala Nath Khanal.  

“The sole purpose of my visit is treatment of my wife. My friends in America also told me that all modern facilities and treatments are available in the US so I am taking her there. And she had also been pushing me for her treatment in the US,” Dahal told reporters.

Nepali Ambassador to the United States Arjun Kumar Karki and US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry are facilitating her treatment. Dahal will stay in the US for at least 10 days.

Earlier, Dahal had taken Sita to Singapore for treatment.

Published: 18-03-2019 11:04

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