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Victoria Nuland prods Nepal to strike balance in ties with India and China

US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland calls on Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in Kathmandu on Monday

KATHMANDU: In a message to China and Russia, United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has said that autocrats are trying to change global rules by force.

Nuland, who visited Kathmandu on Sunday and Monday, told a press conference that the United States is working with Nepal and several other countries to strengthen democracy although autocrats are trying to change the global rules forcefully. However, she avoided naming Chinese and Russian leaders as autocrats.

The US diplomat said that her country values its ties with Nepal. “It’s enormously important for the US to have partners like Nepal working day in and day out to strengthening your democracy and we are also working to do so at home,” she said.

Nuland, who met with Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and key leaders of the ruling and opposition parties on Monday, lauded the country’s path to strengthen democracy by completing the ongoing transitional justice process in a consensual manner through parliament.


“Nepal had good rounds of elections recently. In strengthening of democracy, Nepal has set a spectacular example not only in this region, but around the world. We see what’s happening around the world. We see autocrats trying to change the global rules of the road by force. That is not the Nepali way and that is not the American way. We want our systems and citizens to live in freedom, we want them to have the choice in the way they are governed; we want the government to serve the people, not the other way around. That’s the key component of our democracies,” she said.


On the ongoing US-China rivalry in the world including in Nepal, Nuland said that her country is working on to improve ties with China. “President Biden sat down with China’s Xi Jinping in November and we will have engagements with China in the coming weeks,” she said. There have been media reports of preparations for another meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping.

With regards to Nepal’s ties with China and India, she said that Nepal can reap benefits from economic partnerships with both of its neighbours by maintaining an independent foreign policy. “When we talked to your government here, we said that Nepal can have economic relationship with all of your neighbours. But, please ensure that when you do that you are protecting your own sovereignty and that the deals are good for Nepal and that there is no corruption and everything is open and transparent. So, we welcome Nepal to have good relations with all of its neighbors,” she added.

The US diplomat said that the United States is working with Nepal to expedite energy-related projects under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Nepal Compact which was ratified by the country’s parliament last year despite China’s objections.

“We want to help Nepal on its journey to become a stronger economic power by harnessing potentials in hydropower,” she said.

The US diplomat held marathon meetings with Nepali leaders including Prime Minister Prachanda, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai on Monday. She wrapped her Nepal visit by paying a visit to Patan Durbar Square, a cultural heritage site in the capital.


Nuland, who was appointed as the US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in mid-2021, is the first senior US official to come to Kathmandu after the formation of the new government in Nepal in December last year.  She left Kathmandu for New Delhi on Monday itself. Nuland is also scheduled to visit Sri Lanka.

Also Read: Will Nepal become a battleground of China-US rivalry during Xi Jinping’s third term in office?

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