New statute a milestone, says UK foreign secy

British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Philip Hammond, today said Nepal’s new Constitution was a ‘milestone’ towards ensuring rights of the people and paving the way for development and prosperity.

During a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa at British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Hammond also assured Britain’s support for Nepal’s post-earthquake recovery and development efforts.

Thapa is currently in the UK to participate in the event marking the bicentennial of the bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Discussed #Nepal’s milestone new Constitution, prosperity and development with DPM & Foreign Minister Thapa,” Hammond twitted following the meeting.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British foreign secretary welcomed the adoption of the new constitution and described it as “a milestone in Nepal’s history.”

Expressing his concern about disruption of supplies at the Nepal-India border checkpoints, Hammond hoped that the problem would be resolved soon, the MoFA said in a statement.

During the meeting, DPM Thapa had briefed him on Nepal’s current political situation, including the promulgation of the new constitution and the difficulties faced by the Nepali people due to supply disruptions.

A diplomatic source told The Himalayan Times that DPM Thapa, during his meeting with Hammond and other British officials, expressed disappointment at the UK’s concern about the new statute which figured in a joint communiqué issued after a London-meeting between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in November.

DPM Thapa also urged the British authorities to release ex- Nepali Army Colonel Kumar Lama, especially in the context of the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal.

Lama, who was arrested in London in January 2013 and later released on bail, is facing a trail in a UK court on the charge of torturing two persons during the Maoist insurgency.

DPM Thapa also raised the issue of the British Gurkhas and requested the British government to find a solution to the problem on the basis of equality, including through implementation of the recommendations of the parliamentary report of Jackie-Doyle Price.

The British foreign secretary assured of best possible efforts, on the basis of report of Jackie-Doyle Price, to resolve the problem, MoFA said in its statement.

Earlier, Thapa had held a meeting with British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Hugo Swire and exchanged views on various aspects of Nepal-UK relations.

During the meeting, Thapa gifted a copy of Nepal’s new constitution while Swire presented him a replica of Magna Carta.

In a separate meeting with Minister of State at the Department for International Development, Desmond Swayne, Thapa sought enhanced British support and cooperation to Nepal for post-earthquake reconstruction.