Cabinet decides to write to America to end participation in SPP

The government has decided to withdraw from the State Partnership Program (SPP).

The Cabinet meeting Monday evening has decided to write to America to end participation in SPP, according to Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Uma Regmi.

Nepal had applied to participate in SPP in 2015 and 2017, and the application was approved in 2019.

The issue had created controversy in recent times with questions being raised about joining the military partnership with National Guard of Utah.

The International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives (HoR) summoned Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba to discuss about the issue on Sunday and decided to again summon him after he did not attend the meeting.

The committee on Friday sought all documents related to the State Partnership Program (SPP).

The committee after holding a discussion with Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka and Nepal Army (NA) Chief Prabhu Ram Sharma directed the government and the Foreign Ministry to provide all related documents. Committee Chair Pavitra Niraula Kharel said that a probe committee, however, was not formed as demanded during the discussion by some lawmakers including Bhim Rawal of CPN-UML.

Minister Khadka assured the committee that SPP with the US Army will not be moved forward pointing that military agreement related to SPP was not acceptable to Nepal and it would not be continued as it is not in national interest.

“Army and the US Embassy have also said it will not be implemented. I don’t feel it is appropriate to get more naked when PM himself has stated it won’t be implemented. Many things can be revealed if we dig to find out what happened under whose term. There is no meaning of saying your term and my term,” he added.

General Sharma conceded that the NA wrote to America for participation in the SPP but argued that merely writing a letter did not mean Nepal must join military alliance.

Producing the letter in the meeting he revealed that the first letter requesting participation was written on October 27, 2015 to seek help in disaster management after the Gorkha Earthquake in 2015.

He explained that the process for participation in SPP was initiated with permission of the government after national cognizance of the fact that the NA was weak in resources and expertise deeming that it would be difficult to carry out relief and rescue works if a bigger disaster were to strike Nepal.

CPN (Unified Socialist) Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal said that there would be no joint military exercise with the US Army near the northern borders. The former prime minister and leader of the ruling coalition also revealed that PM Sher Bahadur Deuba had already assured that there would be no military activities at the northern borders.

“PM has said he will not allow military activities at the northern borders. I am assured by that. Pressure from no country will be accepted. We don’t agree on this agreement,” Nepal stated.

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