Security agencies express dissatisfaction as govt halts visit of CIA chief

Published On: March 1, 2023 10:15 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, March 1: Security agencies in Nepal have expressed strong dissatisfaction after the government stopped the scheduled visit of US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Chief Williams Burns to Nepal.

During the visit of CIA chief Burns, at least 2,000 weapons and a few modern vehicles of the American army were also being brought to Nepal. Those weapons also stopped there with the government’s decision to stop the visit of Burns. Sources claimed that the Nepali army had bought the weapons that were being brought along with the vehicles.

"CIA chief Williams Joseph Burns had submitted the schedule to land in Kathmandu at 6:30 PM on February 15 and return at 1:15 PM on February 16," Prime Minister's Office sources said. Burns, who was appointed to head the CIA in 2021, is one of the most influential government officials in the current Biden administration.

Sources claimed that after his visit was stopped, another high-level visit from America was also stopped. Experts have said that Prime Minister Dahal showed his immaturity in the country’s diplomacy by stopping the visit of the CIA chief when the Deputy Minister of Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, USID Chief Samantha Power and South Asian Affairs Bureau Deputy Foreign Minister Afrin Akhtar have already visited Nepal. The Nepali Army has expressed its displeasure over the decision to stop the visit of the CIA chief.

According to sources, the Nepali Army has said that the decision to stop the visit of CIA Chief Burns from coming to Nepal may affect matters such as the military assistance provided by the United States and the presence of the Nepali Army in the UN peacekeeping mission. Currently, Nepal has a very strong presence in the UN peace missions.

The US government has also been providing opportunities to Nepali security officials to participate in various types of training. “When the CIA chief wanted to come to Nepal formally, telling him not to come instead of providing security did not send a good message," said a retired Lieutenant General of Nepali army.

A former chief of the National Investigation Department also said that it is wrong to have the illusion that the CIA chief will do anything wrong when he visits Nepal. The former chief also said that it was a wrong decision on the part of the government to block the visit of the CIA chief and that this could even harm bilateral relations.

Sources said the Office Prime Minister and Council of Minister stopped the visit of CIA chief Barnes, who sent the schedule to visit Nepal on February 15, arguing that it is not the right time to visit Nepal. "After Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal instructed not to give permission for the CIA chief to visit now, Chief Secretary Shankardas Bairagi informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accordingly," the source said. 

Sources claimed that Prime Minister Dahal has banned the visit of Burns citing upcoming presidential election. Burns was scheduled to arrive in Nepal as he was in Sri Lanka and for that he had sent a visit itinerary for the approval of the Nepal government. 

According to sources, the Embassy of Nepal in Washington DC had initiated preparations for the CIA chief's visit to Nepal. These bodies informed Burns about Nepal's security arrangements. After Nepal's parliament approved the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an American aid project, US officials have prioritized Nepal. The Government of Nepal has already started preliminary works including land acquisition for the implementation of MCC.

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