Nepal minister supports demand to declare country a Hindu state

Kathmandu: Nepal has always been pursuing an independent, balanced and non-aligned foreign policy and its sovereign Parliament will decide what development assistance is needed for the country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said here on Sunday, in response to the contentious USD 500 million Millennium Corporation Challenge (MCC) programme.

The Nepal government presented the aid grant for approval in Parliament on Sunday, triggering vociferous protests from members of smaller factions of the Communist Party and several pro-left youth outfits who staged rallies and chanted anti-US slogans, causing police to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters.

“The decision to accept development assistance is taken by Nepal in terms of our national interest and priorities,” Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Sunday.

It is the sovereign Parliament of Nepal alone that decides what development assistance is needed in the best interest of Nepal and its people,” it said.

Nepal’s political parties are sharply divided on whether to accept the US grant assistance under the MCC agreement, which is under consideration in the House of Representatives.

Nepal’s Leftist political parties have been opposing the pact, saying it was not in national interest and that it was meant to counter China.

“Nepal has always been pursuing an independent, balanced and non-aligned foreign policy. In pursuant to this policy, as a sovereign country, Nepal has accepted and utilised development assistance as per her national requirement and priority,” the statement added.

On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin in Beijing said that China is glad to see international assistance to Nepal but it should come without any political strings attached.

Reacting to China’s statement, the US embassy here had said, whether Nepali leaders ratify MCC is a decision for Nepal to make, as a sovereign democratic nation, and Nepal’s decision alone.

“The USD 500 million MCC grant is a gift from the American people and a partnership between the two countries that will bring jobs and infrastructure to Nepal and improve the lives of Nepalis”, the US embassy said in a statement on Saturday.

“This project was requested by the Nepali government and the Nepali people and designed to transparently reduce poverty and grow the economy of Nepal,” it added.

Nepal and the US in 2017 signed the MCC agreement, meant for building Nepal’s infrastructure such as electric transmission lines and improvement of national highways.

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