- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

Unrest in Nepal

The U.S. Embassy in Nepal warned the government of the Himalayan nation that an outbreak of violence threatens to disrupt the country’s fragile peace agreement with Maoist rebels.

“If unity and inclusiveness are not promoted, further bloodshed may result, and Nepal’s peace process could be imperiled,” the embassy said on its Web site (https://kathmandu.usembassy.gov).

Nepalese police yesterday announced the arrests of seven persons suspected of involvement in a riot Wednesday between Maoists and the Madeshi People’s Right Forum in the town of Gaur, about 100 miles south of the capital, Katmandu. The Maoists and the Madeshi activists have been competing for public support in the southern region since last year.

Through labor strikes and demonstrations, the Madeshis have been agitating for more local control from the central government and greater representation in the Nepalese legislature.

“The armed and deadly clash in Gaur on Wednesday was a tragic and unnecessary confrontation. The U.S. Embassy condemns this violence,” the embassy said. “Law and order must be enforced — and not on a selective basis.”

The embassy urged the government to “initiate a transparent and effective dialogue with indigenous and ethnic groups to consider grievances.”

It also blamed the Maoists, who “continue to break their commitments to the people of Nepal,” and called on the rebels to “forswear their addiction to violence and join the political mainstream.”

The rebels last year ended their decadelong war to create a communist nation by signing a peace accord and agreeing to join an interim government.

Earlier this month, a visiting U.S. official also criticized the Maoists for failing to abide by their commitments in the peace treaty.

Henrietta H. Fore, undersecretary of state for management, said Washington is worried about two trends that threaten stability in Nepal.

“The first is the continuing failure of the Maoists to renounce violence, extortion and intimidation,” she told reporters on her March 10 visit. “Violence and intimidation continue. Impunity continues. …

“The second trend that worries my government is the growing unrest among various ethnic groups in Nepal. Unity and inclusiveness are central for Nepal’s democratic transition and its future.”

Banking on Fraker

President Bush’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Saudi Arabia assured a Senate committee that he understands how to work with the Saudis to stop terrorists from receiving money through financial institutions in the desert kingdom.

Ford M. Fraker, a Massachusetts banker for 30 years, is a former top official with the Saudi International Bank.

“I know the bankers. I know the banks. I know the merchants to reach out to them,” Mr. Fraker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a confirmation hearing last week.

Mr. Fraker, currently chairman of the Trinity Group Limited, added that he thinks the Saudis have come to understand the threat posed against them by al Qaeda and other Muslim terrorists, even though Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam.

“The Saudis have come to understand the need to address the roots of extremism that underline terrorism, especially the need to aggressively deny financial support from terrorist organizations,” Mr. Fraker said, according to a report from the Associated Press.

“In recent years, our cooperation in military, law-enforcement and security issues has deepened. We have supported the Saudis as they have confronted their own domestic terror threat from al Qaeda.

“The Saudis have made and continue to make substantial progress fighting terror. Hundreds of terrorists have been arrested and killed in the last three years.”

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

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