Nepal: No need for neighbours to worry, no strategic interest in Indo-Pacifichttps://indianexpress.com/article/world/nepal-no-need-for-neighbours-to-worry-no-strategic-interest-in-indo-pacific-5525877/

Nepal: No need for neighbours to worry, no strategic interest in Indo-Pacific

Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali was responding to media speculation in the wake of his visit to the United States last month at the invitation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Nepal: No need for neighbours to worry, no strategic interest in Indo-Pacific
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) shakes hands with Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali​ left, at the State Department in Washington. (Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh/File)

Nepal’s association with the Indo-Pacific region does not have any strategic significance, and should not raise any alarm bells within the neighbourhood, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said. “Nepal understands the strategic interests of countries in the Indo-Pacific initiative, but Nepal’s interest is limited to enhancing economic opportunities. Therefore, it should not alarm its neighbours,” Gyawali said.

He was responding to media speculation in the wake of his visit to the United States last month at the invitation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the subsequent official statement that Nepal would be playing a central role in the Indo-Pacific region. Some leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party had criticised Gyawali, saying that this amounted to a “shift” that would irk China substantially.

Gyawali also said that Nepal was optimistic that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would receive the report of the Indo-Nepal Eminent Persons Group well before general elections in India. The report prepared by the EPG was ready by the first week of July, but is yet to be formally handed over to the two Prime Ministers.

Meanwhile, Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli, who was expected to apprise the Parliament about the corruption allegations related to the purchase of two wide-body aircraft for the national carrier, kept silent on the issue, infuriating the opposition.

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Oli, during his hour-long speech, did not mention the nearly $4.5 billion allegedly misappropriated in the purchase of the aircraft. After Speaker K B Mahara refused permission to the opposition Nepali Congress to pose questions to the PM regarding the allegations, opposition MPs descended into the well of the House and raised slogans against the government.