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Nepal PM to visit US

April 28, 2002

KATHMANDU, April 27: Ignoring stinging public criticism for his inability to contain Maoist insurgency even with emergency powers, Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is planning to embark on a foreign tour next week that will take him to Washington, New York, London and Brussels.

No formal announcement has been made so far, but official sources confirmed that Deuba would leave Kathmandu on May 5 for Washington, where he expects to meet President Bush and seek additional US assistance for combating the rebels.

Deuba’s latest initiative comes as a surprise because a senior foreign ministry official has already visited Washington and won a pledge for military assistance worth 20 million dollars.

A development support of equal sum is being added to the proposed package.

In New York, Deuba is scheduled to attend a UN conference on children. He is then expected to utilize his stopovers in London and Brussels by holding talks aimed at obtaining British and EU support for his government’s efforts to resolve the crisis.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has ruled out possibility of India getting any chance to “handle” US aid money committed to Nepal.

A report in the Nepali Times newspaper said authorities in New Delhi were earlier hoping to use the US money for buying helicopters for Nepal from a former Soviet state.

“The US foreign military support programme delivers hardware directly and does not hand out cash,” the paper wrote quoting a State Department source.

A US military mission recently returned home after making an on-the-spot study of the challenges Nepal is facing because of the insurgency.

The country is under a state of emergency since November.