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<-Back to WTN Archives Nepal foreign secretary leaves for US to discuss trade, refugees
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Sunday, July 20, 2003

3. Nepal foreign secretary leaves for US to discuss trade, refugees

KATHMANDU, July 18 (AFP) - Nepal's Foreign Secretary Madhu Raman Acharya
left Friday for a week-long trip to the United States where he will try to
win more access for Nepalese garments and discuss the status of Bhutanese
and Tibetan refugees here.

Acharya will meet State Department officials and members of Congress to
"discuss duty- and quota-free access to Nepalese garments in the US," said
foreign ministry spokesman Madan Kumar Bhattarai.

He said the foreign secretary would also discuss the "security situation in
Nepal concerning Bhutanese refugees".

Some 100,000 Bhutanese, largely of Nepalese descent, have lived in
southeastern Nepal for a decade after the neighboring Buddhist kingdom
enacted cultural reforms that promoted the use of Bhutan's language and
national dress.

Bhutan maintains that most of the refugees left voluntarily and denies
allegations its cultural reforms were part of an "anti-Hindu agenda".

A two-year study conducted jointly by the two countries was released last
month and found only 2.34 percent of the refugees at the first camp
researched were "forcibly evicted" and entitled to return home.

After criticism of the study by the US and German ambassadors in Kathmandu,
rights groups and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which
administers the seven refugee camps, Nepal has said it wants to give more
Bhutanese refugees the right to return.

Acharya is also due to discuss the status of Tibetans fleeing via Nepal en
route to India, home of their exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Nepal
provoked condemnation by the United States and the European Union in May
when it handed 18 Tibetans back to China.

This week nine Tibetans arrested for illegally entering Nepal were handed
over to the UNHCR. Nepal has generally been careful not to offend its giant
neighbor China and has refused to permit the Dalai Lama to visit the 30,000
to 35,000 Tibetans settled in the kingdom.

Separately, Acharya is expected to hold talks on a US request for Nepal to
contribute troops to an Iraq "stabilization force". A similar request was
turned down this week by neighboring India.

Acharya will leave the United States on July 25 for Indonesia, where he is
due to attend a meeting of Asian and African diplomats.

Articles in this Issue:
  2. Rights groups urge Blair to push Tibet, abuses in China meetings
  3. Nepal foreign secretary leaves for US to discuss trade, refugees
  4. Dalai Lama to speak at concert
  5. Tibet - a living tradition
  6. Bhutan mulls militia training as conflict looms with Indian separatists
  7. The uprooted of Bhutan

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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