PM, FM could potentially make their mark in UN General Assembly

KATHMANDU, SEP 17 – Apart from other regular agendas in the kitty, time has again come for Nepal to boost its image in the international arena and the upcoming 76th UN General Assembly could be an excellent platform for this.

Officials at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) say Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai wants to convey to the international community that every minute if his is crucial to see that the peace and constitution processes gain momentum. He wants to leave “no stone unturned.”

On the sidelines of the UN meet in New York, the PM will hold meetings with leaders from Nepal’s immediate neighbours, including India and China, a senior MoFA official said. The meetings have already been fixed, the official added.

Officials told the Post that Bhattarai will have an opportunity to meet US President Barack Obama on September 21 in a reception hosted by the latter in honour of visiting leaders. This is an annual ritual.

“We hope that the prime minister and foreign minister will use the UNGA platform to project Nepal in the international arena and try to take the international community, particularly Nepal’s immediate neighbours–India, China and the donor community–into confidence. They are extremely concerned about Nepal’s peace process and have been pouring in a huge amount of money to make it a success,” a senior government official said.

Government officials say they are impressed with the personal capabilities demonstrated by PM Bhattarai and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha. “They both avoid generic comments in their private and officials talks,” a joint secretary said.

Sound interpersonal and communication skills and in-depth knowledge of issues at hand set the tone of bilateral talks with diplomats and both Bhattarai and Shrestha seem to have started out well. “Both have excellent English-language skills,” a MoFA official said. “We came to know that PM Bhattrarai, when he dislikes speeches written by others, corrects and writes himself,” another official said.

“I found the Foreign Minister very precise and careful while choosing his words,” said a diplomat who has held several rounds of meetings with Shrestha. “He is generally cheerful, does not talk loose.”

As part of his preparation for the New York trip, Bhattarai on Thursday held a meeting with former foreign ministers and former diplomats and sought their perspectives on UN-related issues.

“We have advised him to use the forum to improve Nepal’s relations with the UN, which has soured of late due to domestic politics,” a former diplomat said. “The UN’s political mission left Nepal without completion of the peace process, and it still remains the same.”

The meeting was attended by former foreign minister Pashupati Sumsher Rana, former ambassadors Bhek Bahadur Thapa, Lok Raj Baral, Shambu Ram Simkhada, Rajeshwor Acharya and Jay Raj Acharya. The PM assured them that he will adhere to their suggestions.

This time around, in capacity of the Chair of the LDC coordination bureau, Bhattarai and his deputy Shrestha will raise the challenges facing the LDCs and other global issues like climate change, Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development and poverty alleviation. They will also push for implementation of the Istanbul Plan of Action for LDCs.

The PM is scheduled to leave for New York on September 18 and reach there on the 19th. On September 20, Bhattarai will attend a high-level meeting on nuclear safety. On 21, he will attend a reception hosted by Obama and start bilateral meetings with leaders until September 23. The PM will address the UNGA on September 24 and return home on 26.Anil giri.ekantipur

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