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Sherman asks Nepal to start registering Tibetan refugees

KATHMANDU, APR 06 - Thanking Nepal for hosting a large number of Tibetan refugees, honouring the gentlemen's agreement and providing safe passage to them, visiting US Department of State Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R Sherman has asked the Nepal government to start registering anew the Tibetan refugees for their "dignified life".

In a meeting with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Thursday morning at his office, Sherman talked about the obstacles being faced by the children of refugees, particularly in their pursuit of education, employment and emigration.

Nepal has not conducted a census of Tibetan refugees since 1990, when the refugee population stood close to 20,000. Thereafter, it has stopped registering the flow of Tibetan refugees and their children.

"We did talk with the PM about the identity cards and their registration on regular basis and proper documentations," she told reporters before wrapping up her two-day visit. "The PM sincerely paid attention to the issue."

Sherman had a meeting with Tibetan leaders on Wednesday, after landing in Kathmandu from New Delhi.

She expressed her hope that the Nepal government would respect the international rights of refugees. "There is no question in my mind that the government here supports international rights of refugees and I know it is going to resolve the remaining concerns of the Tibetan refugees," Sherman said.

In response to her query about the identification and documentation of Tibetan refugees, the Prime Minister told her that Nepal will preserve the refugees' rights as per international norms and practices.

Pointing to Nepal's strategic location in relation to the refugee matter, she said, "It is an interesting dynamic and Nepal is handling this quite difficult task in a balanced way."

She also talked about the progress made on the peace process front with which she was "incredibly impressed". "It is not an easy thing to do what the leaders and people of Nepal are undertaking," she said.

After meeting a wide range of leaders, thinkers and civil society members, she said she had reached a conclusion that an initial constitution will come out on May 27.

According to a press note issued by the PM's office after the meeting, the visiting US top diplomat also made enquiries about the future course of Nepal's foreign policy. To this the PM responded, "Traditionally, Nepal was taken as a buffer state between India and China. But now onwards it will transform into a vibrant bridge between these two emerging powers."

"We want better relations with not only India and China but also with the United States. Our relations with India, China and the US will depend on international power balance," the PM said.

This is the first high-level visit from the United States in a decade. In 2002, the then Secretary of State Colin Powel had visited Nepal.

Posted on: 2012-04-06 01:00