US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at his official residence in Baluwatar Thursday evening.
PM Deuba, through social media Twitter, expressed happiness over the meeting saying views were exchanged on various aspects of long-standing Nepal-US friendship, cooperation and multifaceted bilateral relations.
Though Lu’s visit was said to be a part of on the occasion of 75 years of diplomatic relations between Nepal and the US, political analysts and diplomatic arena believed that the visit was centered on the MCC issue.
US assistant secretary Lu has arrived in Kathmandu on on Wednesday. During his stay in Nepal Lu had talks with various political parties’ leaders, government officials with whom Lu talks about various aspects of Nepal and US relationships. Diplomatic circle believed that Lu emphasized the MCC issue with all those personalities.
Lu also toured various cultural heritage sites of Nepal. He has scheduled to meet various government officials and visit culturally importance heritage sites tomorrow. Lu was in Male of Maldives before arriving Nepal.
Meanwhile, deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Kelly Keiderling also arrived on Thursday. He is the second high-ranking US official to visit Kathmandu in two days including Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu who arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Kidderling is scheduled to meet with Nepal’s political leadership and civil society representatives, the embassy said.
According to the Embassy of the United States in Kathmandu, two senior US officials’ Nepal visit was focused on COVID-19, climate change and strengthening democracies, as the two nations mark their 75 years of diplomatic relations.
But political pundits and diplomatic people analysed that both the US officials’ visits are considered significant in view of the current rift between the ruling coalition partners over parliamentary ratification of the US grants assistance Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact, which was signed between Nepal and the US in 2017.
Earlier, the US MCC had expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in Parliamentary ratification of its US $500 million grant to Nepal, after the government prorogued the session.
The parliamentary ratification of MCC has already been sidelined on multiple counts as political parties are divided over whether the federal government should ratify the compact saying the decision whether to move forward with the compact now rests with Nepal.
It is to recall here that PM Deuba had said that he himself and one of the coalition partners Maoist Center chief Prachanda, after signing, had sent letters to the US on MCC on a positive angle.
But again playing politics, the PM says he continues to stand firm on getting the MCC passed through the Parliament, but again added saying his coalition partners, including the Maoist Centre, are yet to take a clear stand. This is real politics that the leaders are playing by making Nepali people confused.
The US $500 million grant is a continuation of the strong partnership between the United States and Nepal to reduce poverty through economic growth.
The United States Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) had already expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in Parliamentary ratification of its US $500 million grant to Nepal.
Meanwhile, a confidential document said that hundreds of Chinese intelligence agency people are playing an “active role” to sour Kathmandu’s relations with other countries.
Citing the secret sources, Chinese spies have infiltrated Nepal in the guise of diplomats, journalists and even businessmen claiming that China is “playing a role” in destabilizing Nepal’s relations with other countries, particularly the United States actively propagating and lobbying against the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact.