English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Biden now invites PM Prachanda for conference amid growing US-China rivalry in Nepal

Visiting US official Samantha Power has invited Nepal PM Prachanda to participate in a democracy conference hosted by Biden

KATHMANDU: The United States has invited Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda to the Summit for Democracy to be hosted by President Joe Biden in late March.

Samantha Power, administrator of the USAID, who paid a visit to Kathmandu on Tuesday and Wednesday, told a media briefing that Prachanda has been invited to the second Summit for Democracy which is taking place on March 29 and 30 both virtually and physically.

Biden hosted the first Summit for Democracy in 2021 December in which Nepal’s former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba joined virtually. The US side hopes Nepal’s top leadership will participate in the summit at least virtually, if not physically.

Power said that the US side looks forward to Prime Minister Prachanda’s participation in the summit.

“The invitation has been extended to Prime Minister Prachanda,” said Power adding, “This gives an opportunity to the prime minister to reinforce and continue what the former prime minister had committed to. Prachanda will also get to talk about his plans to strengthen the democratic process and rule of law.”

The first Summit for Democracy, which was viewed by China and Russia as anti-communist US-led club, witnessed the participation of 100 governments in which they made nearly 750 commitments to advance democracy, fight corruption, and counter authoritarianism.

“Building on the first Summit for Democracy held in December 2021, this gathering will highlight how democracies deliver for their citizens and are best equipped to address the world’s most pressing challenges,” the State Department said on its official website.

Power, who met PM Prachanda and Deputy Prime Minister Bishnu Poudel on Wednesday and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Paudyal on Tuesday, said that her meetings with the Nepali leadership largely focused on wide-ranging issues including strengthening democracy, institutionalising the federal system and impact of climate change on Nepali farmers.

“I had a very productive meeting with the prime minister, where we committed to fostering democracy, completing the remaining task of the peace process and his ambitious reform plan,” she said.

Prachanda and Power also discussed bringing more foreign investment in Nepal by relaxing legal and taxation provisions, as well as promotion of entrepreneurship, agriculture, tourism and clean energy, according to her.

Power is the highest level US official to visit Kathmandu after the formation of a new communist-dominated government in Nepal on December 25 last year. As the US and China jostle for influence in Nepal, the US side has stepped up its engagements with Nepal of late.

Power, who once served as the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, argued that her country’s ongoing support to Nepal is aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty and independence.

“I think of the depth, links and scope of our enduring friendship and partnership between people of the two nations. Geopolitics was there during the Cold War and it is there now. But our focus is work. We do partnerships for the well-being of Nepali farmers, and building schools and health centres. We will also focus on your efforts to build back better. All these contributions we make in Nepal are not a product of geopolitical dynamics. These are the products of decade long partnership and friendship,” she said.

The US official also admitted that Washington’s  engagements across the globe including in Nepal have been questioned. “It is largely due to misinformation. US officials are often questioned about the objective of US engagements and people get confused,” she said.

Power’s visit is taking place at a time when the United States has renewed its interests in South Asia, primarily to counter an aggressive China which has also poured significant investments in smaller South Asian nations including Nepal.

There have been a flurry of visits from the US to Nepal in recent weeks, indicating that the Biden administration wants to engage with the new China-friendly government to ensure that the US geo-strategic interests in the Himalayan region are not compromised, analysts said.

She further said,“We care about the Nepali people for their own sake. We are supporting Nepal in its aim to be a middle-income country.”

Power argued that the US is partnering with Nepal and respecting its sovereignty.

“We respect what we are partnering with Nepal but we support the Nepali-led development process. Our concerns and commitments are for the sake of Nepali people so we have been here for the past 75 years,” she said.

Also read:

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent based in Kathmandu)