Friday, February 1, 2019

US envoy 'absent' in the government briefing

US ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry today skipped the government’s briefing to foreign diplomats based in Kathmandu. Instead deputy chief of Mission of the US Embassy Michael C Gonzales was presented in the government briefing – the third of its kind after the KP Sharma Oli-led government was formed almost a year ago – where ambassadors and deputy chiefs of missions from all diplomatic missions were present, according to the Foreign Ministry.
US ambassador to Nepal Berry’s 'conspicuous' absence to the government briefing has, however, made some eyebrows raised due to latest tension between US and Nepal on Venezuela.
The ruling party’s co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on January 25 issued a statement against the US 'involvement' on Republic of Venezuela’s current state-of-affairs. The US – through the Embassy in Kathmandu and also in Washington – sought the government's official view following the Dahal's statement as he is the co-chairman of the ruling party. The government, though, issued another formal statement – on January 29 – arguing that Nepal still follows the no aligned policy but the statement was almost in line with the Dahal's statement.
The US State Department had sought an explanation from Nepali ambassador to US Arjun Karki – in the Washington DC – following Dahal's statement that supported Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and denounced ‘intervention in internal affairs’ of Venezuela by the US and its allies. Senior officials from the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the State Department asked Nepali envoy Karki in Washington DC to submit clarification as – according to the US official – the US did not expect such statement from the leader of the ruling NCP (NCP) without any background on the internal affairs of Venezuela.
Though, the government tried to make its position clear in the issue of political crisis in Venezuela, the US has not been convinced.
The absence of the US envoy today in the government briefing in Kathmandu is diplomatic answer of the US to Nepal, according to a foreign policy expert. The US Embassy has currently been engaging with political leaders, high-level government officials and media to discuss the US government’s position on Venezuela also due to the government’s weak attempt to clarify its position.

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