We need to do more for Nepal: US officials

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WASHINGTON DC, Nov 3: Recognizing Nepal’s strategic importance, top officials from the US Department of State and US Agency for International Development have stated that they need to do for Nepal much more than they have been doing at the moment. The American officials expressed such views in an interaction with a group of visiting journalists from four South Asian countries—Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — last week.

“We want to expand our trade and business ties and trade opportunities with Nepal,” said Diane Farrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary to Asia of the US Department of Commerce. “We are also working out on a plan to bring Nepali business people to Washington DC to facilitate business exchanges.”

In a similar interaction, Alice G Wells, Principal Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, stressed on the need to expand engagement with Nepal. “We care about Nepal very much,” she said. “Nepal is an important geo-strategic space and it has important role in supporting the Indo-Pacific strategy of the US.”

Indo-Pacific Strategy is the program launched by the administration of President Donald Trump to expand engagement of the US in the Indo-Pacific region.

Wells spoke of the possibility of further assistance for Nepal under the Bay of Bengal Initiative. “Under the Bay of Bengal Initiative, we will be able to provide about 70 million dollars for equipments needed for disaster response.”

The USAID officials spoke of their plans to support Nepal in enhancing the capacity of the local governments. Our focus was on reconstruction. Now we will turn to enhancing capacity of local governments, informed the officials.

The US has provided a record high US$ 500 million in grants through its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government foreign aid agency.  Officials in Washington have hinted of more such assistance under Indo-Pacific Strategy.

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