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Nepal's king traded Tibetan refugees for US support: WikiLeaks

January 20, 2011

Economic Times: Jan 15, 2011

KATHMANDU: After ordering the closure of the Dalai Lama's envoy's office
in Kathmandu and taking over absolute power with a military-backed
bloodless coup in 2005, Nepal's King Gyanendra dangled Tibetan refugees
as bait before the US in a bid to get American support, whistle-blowing
web site WikiLeaks said in its latest revelation.

Ramesh Nath Pandey, the man appointed foreign minister by the king, met
the then American ambassador to Nepal, James Moriarty, saying the royal
regime wanted a long-term relationship with the US and would respond
better to "engagement" rather than pressure.

The American ambassador emphasised that the Congress was considerably
concerned about the Tibetan refugees escaping to Nepal from China-held
Tibet and urged the royal minister to ensure the refugees' transit was
proceeded without hindrance.

At time, there were about 1,000 Tibetan refugees at the Tibetan Refugee
Reception Center, that facilitates the forward journey of the refugees
to India and other countries, and the envoy said Nepal needed to make
sure that the process of transiting refugees to India resumed.

The US had earlier proposed it would resettle the Tibetan refugees in
Nepal in American cities but the proposal remains stuck officially after
Nepal declined, due to Chinese pressure.

The ambassador also pushed for an NGO, the Tibetan Welfare Society , to
be given registration. The society, believed to be a new form for the
office of the Dalai Lama's representative in Nepal, was shut down in
January 2005. The leaked cables said the Nepal minister's response was
ambiguous.

He first said Nepal needed to have a close relationship with the US and
then indicated that given the Chinese support, Nepal might not act on
the issues raised by the ambassador unless Washington changed its Nepal
policy.

The king's messenger reportedly said Nepal's long-term interest was in a
relationship with the US, not China or India. He also claimed that
though India and the US had stopped providing military assistance to
Nepal after the coup, "Nepal would not be short of arms" and that "a
plane of material from one of your best friends" would arrive.

The American ambassador advised the king, who was waging a war on the
Maoists with little result, to declare a cease-fire with international
monitoring and to reconcile with the political parties.

The royal minister countered that saying the party leaders were a major
problem and the king should bypass them and ally with middle-tier
leaders. He also said the Maoists would exploit the parties against the
king and dump them when they had their way. The ambassador noted that
Pandey's proposal meant "essentially... decapitating the parties and was
unacceptable".

The ambassador also emphasised that Tibetan refugee issues were one of
the administration's and Congress's key concerns regarding Nepal, and if
there were no progress, Nepal could put at risk other parts of the
relationship, including development assistance.

The new revelation comes even as the controversial memoir of a former
military secretary to the palace claimed China wanted Nepal to deploy
its army to prevent Tibetan refugees from escaping and proposed the army
should be strengthened for that.

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