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Milestone For Nepal

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Evan Feigenbaum says Nepal’s decision to abolish its two-hundred-forty-year-old monarchy and to form a Constituent Assembly is a "very historic leap for Nepal." Mr. Feigenbaum arrived in Kathmandu on May 24 for three days of talks with Nepal’s Prime Minister Girija Koirala and the leaders of Nepal’s four largest political parties.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Feigenbaum said whatever government emerges in Nepal it is important that it reflect the will of the Nepalese people as expressed in the April 10th Constituent Assembly election. The level of political violence remains a matter of concern to the U.S. "Our basic message to every party in Nepal," said Mr. Feigenbaum, "is that the degree to which we can work with parties in Nepal will depend very directly on the degree to which they continue to embrace the political process and abandon violence."

In its recent report on Advancing Freedom and Democracy, the U.S. State Department said the April 2008 Constituent Assembly election was generally accepted by the population, but it was also marred by violence, intimidation, and voting irregularities. The report found that during 2007, human rights abuses were committed by Nepal’s security forces, by the Maoists and its subsidiary organization, the Young Communist League, and by members of small, often ethnically based armed groups. "We’re going to follow events very closely," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Feigenbaum, "and we’ll follow the actions of the various parties, including the Maoists, very closely."

Other challenges facing Nepal include endemic poverty in some areas of the country and rising food prices. The U.S. has assistance programs to help the people in Nepal in many areas: education, health, security, political institution building, and economic development.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Feigenbaum said there is "a reservoir of goodwill" between the people of Nepal and the people of the United States." The U.S., he said, takes "an interest in a stable, democratic and prosperous Nepal."