The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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UN offer to push Nepal peace upsets Delhi

New Delhi, July 31: India is upset over the offer of the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to help Nepal negotiate a peaceful settlement with its Maoist insurgents. The offer came in the form of a statement from the spokesman for Annan on Wednesday commenting on the stalled peace process with the Maoists in Nepal.

The operative part of the statement said: “The secretary general remains at the disposal of Nepal to assist the achievement of a negotiated peaceful solution.”

The statement says that “the secretary general has been following with keen interest the peace process in Nepal” and notes that the process is facing some obstacles. It is in this context that Annan has offered his services to Kathmandu.

As it happens, Kathmandu has not sought UN assistance at any point of time in dealing with the Maoists. And, after an exchange of letters between the government at Kathmandu and the Maoist leadership, some prominent Maoists have been released from Nepalese jails. As a result, today the Maoist leadership itself has expressed willingness to come for a third round of talks with the Surya Bahadur Thapa government.

Although this makes Annan’s offer unnecessary, India is upset at the interventionist role being sought by the UN in Nepal. The UN normally intervenes only in intractable disputes between nations and is not expected to interfere in the internal matters of any sovereign country.

The negotiation between the Maoists and Kathmandu is a matter internal to the Himalayan kingdom, official sources point out. Therefore, they claim, there is no role for the UN in trying to “help” with the negotiations with the Maoists.

Another situation under which the UN has begun intervening is to prevent humanitarian crises — caused by genocide or large scale deaths due to famine, for example. There is no such humanitarian crisis in Nepal, Indian government sources point out. Most importantly, they say, Kathmandu has at no point sought third-party intervention by the UN or any other multilateral organisation or country.

Some extra-regional powers have, however, been showing considerable interest in acting as neutral umpires between Kathmandu and the Maoists. They want to offer the help of conflict resolution experts to facilitate the negotiations.

“If the talks between Kathmandu and the Maoists get stalled, it is not because the two sides lack conflict resolution skills or do not know how to negotiate. The negotiations will succeed or fail depending on whether a meeting ground is reached on substantive issues being raised by the Maoists,” Indian officials point out.

“And how can anyone be neutral between a state which is trying to maintain law and order and those taking up arms against it'” they ask.

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