KATHMANDU, Feb 1: A senior US State Department official recently called Nepal's Ambassador to the United States Arjun Karki to enquire about the statement issued by Chairman of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal on the ongoing Venezuelan crisis, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
During the meeting with the Nepali envoy in Washington DC, the US officials asked if the statement issued by Chairman Dahal reflected the government's official position.
Chairman Dahal's statement on the Venezuela crisis came at a time when the US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry was in Washington to consult with the State Department officials to see the prospects of high level visits from the US to Nepal.
According to sources, the ambassador's meeting with the US officials prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue the statement.
Surprised by the strong-worded statement issued by Chairman Dahal, the US officials immediately called ambassador Karki to the State Department. Dahal's statement had earlier said that US recognition to opposition leader was “an unacceptable intrusion in internal affairs and an attempt of imperialist coup”.
In its statement on Jan 29, the MOFA said that it had been closely following the recent political developments in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
"In line with its principled position, Nepal believes that internal political problems of a country need to be resolved within its constitutional parameters in a democratic manner, free from external interferences. The people of Venezuela have the ultimate authority to take a decision on the country’s political and constitutional course. We stand for peace, stability and unity of Venezuela and call for resolution of differences through peaceful means," the MoFA had stated.
Why the US is unhappy with Nepal?
Even as the government's official statement on the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela tried to distance itself from the ruling party chairman Dahal's statement criticizing US and its allies, this has failed to impress the US officials in Kathmandu.
Diplomatic sources said US officials have taken the statement issued by MoFA on the Venezuelan crisis as not essentially different in its content as compared to Dahal's previous statement, although “the language has been improved with fine editing.”
Shortly after Dahal issued the statement that criticized US and its allies for “intervention in the internal affairs of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with the intention of increasing the violence by dividing people and challenging democracy, sovereignty and peace,” US Embassy in Kathmandu had sought clarification with senior government officials if Dahal's statement was the official position of the government. “The government's statement only sparked confusion. It did not clarify anything,” said the sources familiar with the development.
The US officials in Kathmandu have described the MOFA statement as continuation of Dahal's earlier statement. “The statement fails to clear any air of confusions. Although the language has been changed, this contains no different intention,” added the sources.
Venezuela has been witnessing massive protests after President Nicolas Maduro, who secured another six-year term last May in a disputed election, was sworn in two weeks ago. Political turmoil took a dramatic turn after the opposition leader and upper house chair Juan Guaido, who is leading massive street protests, declared himself the interim president, and was subsequently able to win recognition from the US and its allies.
The declaration by Guaido was in line with the Articles 333 and 350 of the Venezuelan Constitution. He made this declaration with full support of the upper house.
The US has maintained its position that the ongoing political crisis has now not just remained an internal affair, but a matter of grave international concern, given the huge humanitarian crisis in the country and gross violation of human rights due to misuse of state apparatus by the Maduro regime. Chairman Dahal's statement had earlier said that US recognition to opposition leader was “an unacceptable intrusion in internal affairs and an attempt of imperialist coup.” US officials have maintained that the statements issued by Dahal and the government fail to properly recognize the ground reality in Venezuela.