Wednesday, November 02, 2005

US Congress Writes To Secretary Rice

October 28, 2005

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

We, the undersigned Members of Congress, remain extremely concerned about the deteriorating political, economic, and democratic situation in Nepal.

As you implement your FY2006 foreign relations plan for Southeast Asia, we encourage you to convene and chair a high-level interagency group that could include the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Energy, and Treasury, the Attorney General, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Please invite other agencies to join this group as appropriate. The purpose of this high-level group would be to discuss, develop and implement a multi-pronged and multi-year strategy to address the grave situation in Nepal. This strategy could form the basis of collaboration with our allies and other interested nations, multilateral development banks, and chambers of commerce to reverse the tenuous situation in Nepal. We believe that a package that combines diplomatic intervention, economic development, and restoration of civil security is required to persuade King Gyanendra to embrace democratic governance, while addressing the crushing poverty and human privation the people of Nepal face.

We urge you to work with your counterparts in all interested nations, particularly Australia, China, the European Union, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom. We urge you to include the regional and multilateral development banks, international development organizations, and chambers of commerce in this activity. The goal would be to use multilateral action to persuade the King, the Maoists, and the people of Nepal to make permanent the cease-fire, restore multi-party democratic processes and institutions, and security to the entire Kingdom.

In February this year, Members of Congress corresponded with King Gyanendra of Nepal where we conveyed our deepest concerns that democratic processes had broken down in Nepal. While the Maoists have been extremely brutal in their activities and share responsibility for the deterioration of the political and civil situation in Nepal, they have declared a cease-fire in an attempt to settle a nine-year civil war. We believe the United States and other interested nations must encourage the King to resist provocations from the insurgents and show leadership by moving forward with the negotiations towards peace and multi-party democracy.

We are dismayed about press reports of excessive use of force by Royal Nepalese Army and police forces and the arrest of over 400 activists and teachers who have engaged in peaceful protests. The recent restriction on the media and confiscation of broadcast equipment causes us further concern. Peaceful gatherings and demonstrations, and freedom of the press are hallmarks of democracy. These freedoms must be protected.

Recent articles in the October issue of Foreign Affairs (Preview or full text in HRW site) and the November 2005 issue of the National Geographic summarize the situation that Nepal faces. They compels us to request that the United States work with its allies to ensure that all avenues are pursued to resolve this situation before it worsens.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding the development and implementation of this strategy.

James T. Walsh (R-New York)
Bob Filner (D-California)
Mark Kirk (R-Illinois)
Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts)
Mark Udall (D-Colorado)
Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania)
Chris Smith (R-New Jersey)

cc:Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Treasury John Snow
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Administrator Andrew Natsios

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