December 23, 2018 06:05 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Dec 23: A few days after the United States of America sought a central role by Nepal in its ambitious Indo-Pacific strategy, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has said that Nepal does not believe in any alliances and will not enter into such activities.
Gyawali, who is a leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, made the remark while airing his views at the party's ongoing standing committee meeting on Saturday.
“The US side shared their Indo-Pacific vision and talked about Nepal's possible central role in it. In response, we conveyed to them that Nepal does not believe in any alliances and will not enter into such activities,” a standing committee member quoted the foreign minister as saying at the meeting which was attended by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and other top leaders of the party.
Briefing the standing committee on his visit, the foreign minister made clear Nepal's position with regard to the announcement of the US side. He said that Nepal had not taken any decision on participation in the US-led alliance.
Foreign policy experts opine that participation by Nepal in the US strategy aimed at countering China could bring mistrust between China and Nepal as Nepal is already a signatory to China's Belt and Road Initiative. The US strategy is widely construed as aimed at reshaping America's regional approach and coalescing efforts to contain a rising China.
“… the two leaders discussed Nepal's central role in a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific, [and] global issues, including North Korea,” Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department Robert J. Palladino said in a press statement on December 18, following a delegation-level meeting between Foreign Minister Gyawali and his US counterpart Michael R. Pompeo.
As part of its Indo-Pacific strategy, the Trump administration had earlier announced $113 million in investments to promote digital, energy and infrastructure connectivity in the Indo-Pacific in the midst of China scaling up its infrastructure loans to various countries in Asia Pacific including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Maldives .
At the ASEAN Regional Forum on August 4, US Secretary of State Pompeo announced the intent to provide nearly $300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific region. This assistance includes $290.5 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), and peacekeeping capabilities, and $8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds to counter transnational crime.
This funding commitment came shortly after Secretary Pompeo and other senior US officials announced new economic and development initiatives at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington D.C..