- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007

Aid for Nepal

The U.S. ambassador in Nepal yesterday promised American assistance to the new government, even though it includes Maoist rebels named on Washington’s terrorist list.

Ambassador James F. Moriarty explained that the Treasury Department made an exception to the law against aiding governments with terrorist members to help the Himalayan constitutional monarchy create an interim coalition as part of a peace treaty reached last year. Treasury issued a “license” to allow the U.S. aid through Feb. 28, 2008.

“This license enables the U.S. mission to meet its commitments to continue supporting the people of Nepal and the peace process,” he said in the capital, Katmandu.

The peace treaty gave the Maoists 83 members in the 330-seat parliament, calls on the rebels to disarm, places limits on the authority of the Nepalese army and allows the United Nations to monitor the agreement. Elections for a new parliament are due by June.

Mr. Moriarty warned the rebels that if they refuse to lay down their arms, the U.S. Embassy “will work to ensure that Maoists ministers [in the Cabinet] cannot claim credit for U.S. assistance.”

Most U.S. aid is provided through nongovernmental organizations.

The ambassador last month warned the Maoists to respect the peace treaty.

“No partner in a coalition government should expect to retain a private army. Destabilization, mistrust and insecurity invariably would result,” Mr. Moriarty said.

“Democracy comes from the consent of the people, not the barrel of a gun. As the Maoists are now represented in a democratic interim legislature, it is time they finally and completely renounce violence, intimidation and extortion. The Nepali people deserve nothing less.”

The rebels’ 11-year war aimed at overthrowing the monarchy and installing a Maoist government wrecked the country’s economy and claimed 13,000 lives.

King Gyanendra last year renounced his powers as an absolute monarch shortly before the seven-party coalition signed the peace treaty with the rebels.

Cat fever

As if travelers to Indonesia did not have enough to worry about with floods, terrorism and bird flu, now they are warned to stay away from stray cats.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta this week urged Americans to avoid the strays because some homeless felines have contracted the deadly bird flu, known as the H5N1 virus. The embassy added that officials so far have found no cases of cats passing on the virus to humans.

“There have been confirmed reports that wild and stray cats have been shown to carry H5N1. While there have been no documented cases of feline-to-human transmission of H5N1, it is important to avoid contact with wild and stray cats,” the embassy said, adding that house cats are not at risk.

Incidents of bird flu are so prevalent in Indonesia that U.S. Ambassador B. Lynn Pascoe last month distributed 100,000 sets of protective suits, respirators, goggles and gloves for workers and officials who come into contact with infected birds. The suits are part of a $24 million program to help Indonesia deal with the disease, which has claimed more than 60 lives in the Southeast Asian nation. Bird flu has killed 163 persons worldwide.

“The most recent cases serve to remind us that we have not yet contained bird flu here in Indonesia and must remain vigilant in both our continued efforts to detect and contain the virus and to educate the citizens of this nation, particularly at the village level — so that they, too, may play an active role in prevention, early warning and control of a virus that continues to strike them quite literally where they live,” he said.

The equipment will be donated to bird-flu programs run by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization and community-based efforts supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the embassy said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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