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Welcome to "Ask the Ambassador" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to U.S. Ambassadors around the world.

U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell,, discussed U.S.-Nepal bilateral relations.

Nancy Powell, U.S. Ambassador to Nepal
Nancy Powell
U.S. Ambassador to Nepal

April 28, 2008

Justin in Virginia writes:

How do you expect the recent Maoist election victory to affect U.S.-Nepal relations particularly in the context of recent anti-Chinese/pro-Tibet protests?
Also, is there any way to receive an answer for this unrelated question??

As a student who studied in Nepal in 2003, and who is now admitted to study for an LLM in South Asian Law in London, what route would you recommend to putting my South Asian skills to work for the U.S. government?

Ambassador Powell:

We hope that U.S.-Nepal relations will continue to be strong and supportive of Nepal’s development as a stable, prosperous and democratic nation. For more than fifty years, we have been a reliable partner with Nepal through our assistance programs. Nepal’s contributions to international peacekeeping have been especially valued by the international community.

The United States will continue to call on the Government of Nepal to respect the right of Tibetans and others to demonstrate peacefully and to avoid harsh treatment of protestors. We hope that the new government will recognize these fundamental rights.

As our relations with South Asia expand, particularly in the trade and commercial areas, you may want to check with the Department of Commerce and with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for possible openings. Your expertise may also help you score well in the competitive exam for the U.S. Foreign Service and for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Timila in Illinois writes:

I am really curious to know if the U.S. government will be taking the terrorist tag off the Maoist party, now that they have almost won the elections. And how does the U.S. government view this election result? Was it anticipated/ unanticipated?

Ambassador Powell:

Almost everyone in Nepal was surprised by the election outcome. Now that the final results are in, it looks like the CPN-Maoists will emerge as the largest party, but without a majority. We, here in the Embassy, will be working with our U.S. Government colleagues in Washington to determine if the current designation of the CPN-Maoists as a terrorist body on the Terrorist Exclusion list and Specially Designated Nationals list should be continued. That decision is likely to take some time to complete. In the meantime, we hope that the Maoists will show respect for democratic norms.

Pualani in Hawaii writes:

What is really being done to stop sex trafficking from happening i mean look at all the people being trafficked and all the woman being raped and it’s not like the situation is getting any better -- it’s getting worse …a whole lot worse and a lot of people just turn the other cheek or refuse to acknowledge what’s going on. So, my question is again, what is really going on to stop it and what can I do to help?

Ambassador Powell:

Sex trafficking is a problem in Nepal which affects mainly young women who are trafficked to India and within Nepal. The Government of Nepal has taken limited steps to address the problem and has been assisted by a number of local groups. It appears that more of the trafficking is occurring within Nepal as efforts to prevent international trafficking are having some effect.

The United States Government supports some of these local groups in their efforts to prevent and stop trafficking and to assist the victims. I recently spent half a day with several of these groups seeing firsthand their efforts to prevent trafficking at the large Kathmandu bus depot, to provide literacy and vocational training to victims, and to observe some of the massage parlors where victims work. In addition, we have an active program to try to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

I hope you will continue your interest in this issue by speaking out against trafficking.

Rupak in Washington, DC writes:

After the people's mandate for the Maoists to run the government, what do you expect in terms of Nepal's relation with China and if that is going to have any effect on US-Nepal relations?
Thank you!

Ambassador Powell:

I do not anticipate major changes in Nepal’s foreign relations with its two big neighbors, India and China. India remains critically important to the Nepalese economy. The new government will need to maintain the free flow of goods and people. China is likely to continue its assistance program, but has never endorsed the Maoist movement.

Ramesh in Nepal writes:

Excellency, Good Morning.

Do you think that CPN (Maoist) is the legitimate force of Nepal? What is your reaction on the recent landslide victory of Maoist in the CA poll of Nepal? How do you see the credibility of the CA election? Does your government lend support the Maoist government? Thanks.

Ambassador Powell:

The final results of the elections came out last week, showing that the CPN-Maoist party won the most seats, but it was hardly a landslide with less than forty percent of the seats. The election appears to have been a credible one, despite reports of widespread intimidation and violence prior to the elections and problems on Election Day in some polling places. Although there were violations of the Code of Conduct by supporters from all major parties, the bulk of them appear to have been committed by Maoists.

We are continuing our program of assistance to Nepal. Any changes in policy will depend on the attitude of the new government towards both our programming and maintenance of democratic norms.

Walter in California writes:

Given the Maoists past statements and misdeeds, is there any concern that they will attempt to usher in a Stalinist regime, such as the Khmer Rouge did in the 1970s? What, if any, personal freedoms do the people of Nepal have to fear losing?

Ambassador Powell:

The Maoist leaders have assured the Nepali public and the international community that they will respect democratic norms. We, here at the embassy, will be monitoring developments closely, particularly to ensure that the human rights of all Nepalis, including security of person, are respected. We will also be closely following issues involving the ability of the media to report freely and of the parties to engage in political activities in all parts of the country.

Nathan in Wisconsin writes:

What steps is the U.S. taking to ensure that the situation in Nepal doesn't again spiral out of control (i.e. the re-emergence of the civil war, re-suspension of elections, etc.) following the victory of the Maoist party in this month's elections?

Ambassador Powell:

We are meeting with politicians, civil society, members of the international community, and the media to encourage a smooth transition to the Constituent Assembly and formation of the new government. We are also continuing our programs which promote good governance. I will be returning to the United States next week for consultations to review our programming and policies.

Holly in Australia writes:

What chances does Nepal have of becoming a more economically stable country and how is it likely to achieve this?

Ambassador Powell:

Nepal has valuable resources that can be developed to support a much more robust economy. In particular it has huge potential in the tourism and hydropower fields. There is also an emerging IT sector that may be able to work with the Indian IT companies. In order to take advantage of these assets, it will need to adopt more pro-business trade and commercial policies, curb corruption, and improve its human capital through a massive education effort. Current high food and petroleum prices are going to impact the daily lives of Nepalis and make economic reform more difficult for the new government.

Laura in Illinois writes:

I am in the process of adopting from Nepal. What impact could the recent elections have on the adoption process?

Ambassador Powell:

Nepal suspended all international adoptions several months ago in order to make sure that their regulations and practices met international norms. With the exception of those cases that were in the pipeline before the suspension, processing has stopped. I recommend you be in close touch with our Consular Section at adoptionsnepal@state.gov and check the embassy’s webpage, http://nepal.usembassy.gov/, to receive the latest information.

Papri in India writes:

Respected madam, what is United States contribution in Nepal's transition to democracy since 1996?

Ambassador Powell:

The United States assistance to Nepal over the past twelve years has focused on a number of areas including support for the peace process, assistance to democratic political parties, training and equipment for the Election Commission, including the printing of the ballots for the recent election; support for local peace initiatives in the Terai, and countless public and private diplomatic efforts. Two of our most successful democracy programs started out supporting community forestry user groups and female health volunteers. In both programs, the result has been the strengthening of local governing bodies and the enhanced role of women.

Conrad in Florida writes:

Ambassador Powell: Hello. What is the direct problem with utilizing the Peace Corp in Nepal? Will the current upcoming elections in Nepal make the difference to have the Peace Corp reestablished there? Thank you.

Ambassador Powell:

Peace Corps left Nepal in 2004 in the wake of the renewed Maoist insurgency and fears that our volunteers would not be safe. It was a difficult decision for all involved as Peace Corps has been a vital part of our assistance since the early 1960’s. Before assuming my post last August, I met with Peace Corps officials in Washington. We agreed that the time for a return was not right, but that we would review the situation following the elections. I will be doing that soon and hope that we can have Peace Corps volunteers return soon, but the bottom line is that they must be able to do so safely.

 Event Date: 4/28/2008

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