Nepal has been part of the State Partnership Program (SPP) since 2019 after Nepal twice applied for participation in 2015 and 2017, an American diplomatic source has claimed.
The then Nepal Army (NA) Chief Rajendra Chhetri had applied for partnership on both the occasions. The NA had copied both the applications to the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry of Nepal.
The website of the American National Guard also mentions that Nepal is part of the SPP since 2019 as claimed by the diplomatic source.
The source added that Nepal first applied for the SPP in 2015 while looking for resources for humanitarian assistance and to cope with natural disasters following the Gorkha Earthquake, and revealed that no documents were signed in course of accepting the application.
The source also called the documents purportedly to be the American proposal to Nepal fake and claimed that America has never put pressure or lobbied with Nepal to sign or join the SPP. “The document published in some online outlets that purports to be a military deal between the United States and Nepal is fake. By policy, the United States does not ask countries to join the State Partnership Program and only responds to requests to do so,” the US Embassy had tweeted Tuesday evening.
The source claimed that not much work was done under the SPP despite participation of Nepal in the SPP since 2019. “The National Guards from Utah state of America had brought masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials at the start of pandemic. There has been no work under the partnership apart from that.”
The then Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli was officially informed in 2019 about Nepal’s selection for the SPP, according to the source. The then government expressed ignorance and said that Nepal would think about the issue.
Speaking in the House of Representatives (HoR) meeting on Wednesday, CPN-UML lawmaker Pradeep Gyawali, who was foreign minister in 2019, also said that the Oli government had decided to conduct a detailed study about its impact, and not send any message and keep it on hold until any conclusion was reached and blasted the current government for moving the issue forward.
“There seems to have been correspondence on the issue in September 2015. The then Defense Ministry does not seem to have seriously considered the consequences. This remained undecided for a long time,” Gyawali told the HoR on Wednesday.
The source has said that it is up to Nepal now to decide whether to continue the partnership or not. “There can be a way out if Nepal writes saying we end this partnership. In that case, it may take time to make arrangements of budget if the Nepal Army were to ask America for any training,” the source explained.