By Our Reporter
David J Ranz, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, recently visited Kathmandu. During his short stay here, he had called on Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal on 15 May. Besides, on 14 May, he had addressed an interaction programme organised by the Institute for Strategic and Socio-Economic Research (ISSR).
David, addressing the interaction programme on the U.S. vision for the Indo-Pacific region, mainly attended by selected former Nepali diplomats, foreign relations experts, businessmen, academicians — known to be America confidants, said that why the US sees Nepal as an important player in this region.
According to a participant at the interaction programme, describing on significance of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, he said that Nepal would benefit enormously under the American Strategy.
The Strategy includes the package of development and security, he said.
Nepal holds the right to decide on whether to join the club or not. We will not intervene on the issue, he said.
How Nepal will benefit from BRI, Nepal herself should evaluate. We wish, Nepal should participate in the Indo-Pacific Strategy and avoid foreign intervention, he said.
Indo-Pacific Strategy is for transparency, accountability, anti-corruption and a strong Nepal. Security is our prime concern, he said.
Finding out investment projects, energy market and Nepal’s reach to the sea are our concerns, he said.
He further said that all support from the US to Nepal will be through this Indo-Pacific Strategy. This support is totally on the humanitarian ground, we are in support of a free press and democracy.
Indicating towards some suspicious works of North Koreans in Kathmandu, he said that America doesn’t want to see foreigners carrying out their activities staying in Nepal.
At the interaction programme, “Grading China’s Belt and Road”, a report by Center for a New American Security (CNAS) was distributed to the participants. The report describes negative aspects of BRI. This makes clear that Ranz’s visit was focused on lobbying against China’s BRI.
On the 15th May meet with the Home Minister, he had complained on some North Korean citizens in Kathmandu who were involved in illegal activities. According to reports, he also put pressure to the Minister to install American security software at the immigration counters in the Tribhuvan International Airport to check criminal and terrorist activities. Due to the security reasons, the TIA Immigration Office is planning to install a Nepali software.
At a press meet on 14th May, Ranz, indicating towards China, said that human rights and freedom are the American concerns.
Responding to quarries made by local journalists, Ranz had said that Indo-Pacific Strategy is not against BRI. Nepal is free to develop partnerships, however, Nepal should be alert on whether the partnership is in Nepal’s interests or not.
He also said that first Nepal should conduct a study on Chinese investment under BRI in other countries.
He said that there is lack of transparency and accountability in such investments.