Tue, 28 Jun 2022

Nepal reluctant to sign SPP despite lucrative U.S. incentives

Khalid Umar Malik
20 Jun 2022, 15:38 GMT+10

KATHMANDU, Nepal - According to top government sources, despite speculation in political circles that visiting U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Charles Flynn would urge Nepal to join the US-initiated State Partnership Program (SPP), a component of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the issue did come up in his meetings with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Nepal Army Chief General Prabhu Ram Sharma.

"Both the prime minister and the army chief are seeking broader political consensus for signing the agreement," a senior Defense Ministry official said, adding, "If there is consensus, Nepal may sign the agreement during Prime Minister Deuba's July visit to the United States."

On Friday, General Flynn, who arrived here for a four-day official visit, met with President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Deuba, and General Sharma, among others.

Since 2015, the U.S. has proposed that Nepal join the SPP, and in April, it sent a draft to the Nepali side for review.

Prime Minister Deuba has consulted with various stakeholders since receiving the draft agreement, and the Nepal Army is also studying it.

"However, we have not concluded because the Nepal Army has reservations about some of the draft's paragraphs." "Nepal does not want to be associated with any US-led security and military alliance or the Indo-Pacific Strategy," a joint secretary at the Ministry of Defence said on anonymity.

During the third meeting of the Nepal-US Land Force Talks in Hawaii, the U.S. had asked Nepal to sign the SPP and offered military assistance under the program.

According to officials familiar with the proposal, the six-page proposal contains ten clauses. It promises to provide Nepal with US$500 million over five years in addition to non-lethal equipment for the Nepal Army.

According to officials, the U.S. has also offered to collaborate with the Nepal Army and provide assistance in cyber security, terrorism, intelligence sharing, high-altitude training, humanitarian aid, and disaster management.

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