Twenty five days after it made first official contact with the “terrorist” Maoists in years, the United States today held another face-to-face meeting with the top leadership of the Maoist party.
Visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan A. Feigenbaum met Maoist chairman Prachanda in latter’s residence in Naya Bazar today evening. American ambassador Nancy J Powell, who met Prachanda on May 1, accompanied Feigenbaum. Senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai was also present in the meeting that lasted for almost 58 minutes. The Americans arrived at the Prachanda residence at 18:39 in a car with the diplomatic license plate (61 CD 17) that didn’t have the American flag. Maoist leaders had arrived from high level meetings at the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwataar at 18:15 to receive the guests.
The Americans didn’t want to talk to the reporters who were eagerly waiting outside the Prachanda residence. They didn’t even want to be photographed. They instructed the driver to take the car inside the compound. It took the driver about three minutes to take the car inside the congested yard. Both Feigenbaum and Powell hid behind the staircase wall during that time. After the driver took the car inside, they quickly entered inside and whisked off. Reporters were disappointed.
After a minute or so came out the two Maoist leaders who were going back to Baluwataar for the power sharing meeting with other political parties. Prachanda spoke to reporters for three minutes about his meeting with the Americans:
“The formal communication with American started some 15/20 days ago when the American ambassador came to our residence. She went to Washington after having talks with us. She came after staying there two weeks. Then immediately after her arrival the deputy who…deputy assistant foreign minister…there are many of them like him in America…came with whom we somewhat seriously talked about Nepali political situation, formation of the government, the process of the implementation of the republican order, our views regarding overall development process. They asked us on all those topics.
“We told them that we want to make the peace process success in a new way, we want to institutionalize democracy in Nepal in a new way and we want to move forward the model of development in a new way. We have been in the peace process for long time now and we continuously stressed on democratic norms and the election of CA. But still, we told them, you haven’t helped us by having a positive attitude towards us as you should have done.
“They said that whatever has happened till now was a progress.
“They asked us little bit more about the activities of YCL. They said they were hearing reports about YCL’s activities being oriented towards violence. We said that we put forward a proposal in our meeting with parties in Baluwataar to end YCL’s paramilitary-like character that they stay in barracks and turn them into purely a political organization. [We also said that] NC and UML have accepted the proposal and [Americans] said that’s a progress.
“We told them that we need American help in economic development. We also expressed our commitment towards peace, multiparty democracy, cooperation among parties to form a coalition government, to write the new constitution as soon as possible and hold another election.
“By going through their presentation and body language we felt that we were probably able to convey our message.
“They said a team of constitutional expert and economic development will come to Nepal and hold discussion with us as well.
“Regarding the terrorist thing, they said they were moving forward in the process [to remove us from the list] and there will be a development.
“They said they will help the government under our leadership. There is no obstruction for that.”
A press statement issued by the US embassy on May 24 regarding deputy assistant secretary Feigenbaum’s visit to Nepal:
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan A. Feigenbaum arrived in Kathmandu on May 24 for a three day visit. Dr. Feigenbaum plans to meet the leaders of the four largest political parties in Nepal to discuss the formation of a new interim government, the need to end political violence, and efforts to craft a new democratic constitution. Dr. Feigenbaum will also review recent U.S.-funded projects to support participatory democracy in Nepal, including the launch of a community radio station in Humla.
Dr. Feigenbaum joined the Bureau of South and Central Asian affairs in early 2006, following his service on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff. He has principal responsibility for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives as well as Regional Affairs. He was previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Central Asia.
Dr. Feigenbaum, who earned his PhD. in political science from Stanford University, is making his first visit to Nepal as Deputy Assistant Secretary but conducted research in Nepal during his prior career.
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