Nepal Army (NA) Chief Prabhu Ram Sharma has conceded that the NA wrote to America for participation in the State Partnership Program (SPP) and argued that merely writing a letter does not mean Nepal has to join military alliance.
Producing the letter in the meeting called by the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives (HoR) to discuss SPP on Friday, General Sharma 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 also revealed that the NA wrote the letter to receive the fund under the SPP of Utah state of America. “We also wrote two more letters later…But they were not written to go against Nepal’s foreign policy and for military alliance,” Sharma stressed.
He assured that the NA functions in accordance to the government’s foreign policy and the letters were written only after receiving permission from the then defense minister and prime minister (PM).
“We wrote to the Government of Nepal after learning that SPP will coordinate with the IPS (Indo-Pacific Strategy) and become part of it pointing that needs to be taken stock of and (participation in SPP) should be changed. I also have copy of that (letter).”
He reiterated that SPP was not a military partnership at the beginning and claimed that the NA had nothing to hide. “There is nothing for us to lie. Different programs have been moved forward to ensure that we need not do military partnership. We have received four planes under this partnership. Two have arrived, others are in process of service. One air ambulance will arrive. We have not received any arms and ammunition, and money from this program.”
He also expressed ignorance about the 10-point proposal purportedly sent by America to join SPP published in the media. “That proposal has not arrived. We will not do anything even if it comes. We will not do anything without consulting the government and experts.”
The NA, earlier, had not acknowledged that it had applied to participate in SPP. It issued a statement Wednesday evening claiming that no agreement or understanding has been signed about the SPP.
"The Nepal Army has not signed any agreement or understanding about the SPP with the US Army or government, and there is no process toward signing such agreement," the NA statement says. "The Nepal Army is always clear about the objective fact about not doing military partnership in the future with anyone in a way that can adversely affect the non-aligned foreign policy adopted by Nepal and Nepal's special geopolitical location and strategic sensitivities."
The NA statement mentioned that no agreement or understanding had been signed about the SPP but it did not speak about the claims of the US Embassy that it had first applied for participation in 2015 and then again in 2017.