KATHMANDU, Sept 12:Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey says he is working diligently towards raising the country´s image in the international arena and the effective conduction of its foreign policy.
He said so while informing the International Relations and Labour Committee of the Legislature-Parliament regarding the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit to be held here on November 26 and 27; the preliminary signing of the power trade agreement (PTA) with India recently, the distribution of the machine-readable passports and the delay in the appointment of ambassador to different countries.
Stating that the SAARC Summit is taking place in the country for the third time and it was a matter of national prestige, the Foreign Affairs Minister stressed on active participation of all the Nepalis was inevitable in this event.
He informed the parliamentary committee that a main programme committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala for the successful holding of the SAARC Summit.
Pointing out that the political situation in South Asia has improved of late, he said this was vindicated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inviting the heads of state or governments of SAARC member countries to his oath-taking ceremony to give a message that India has kept its relations with its neighbours in priority.
Minister Pandey said the government apparatus was working 24 hours in connection with preparations for the SAARC Declaration and readying the physical infrastructures as the Summit venue and the construction of other physical facilities for the Summit.
Stating that the preliminary draft of the PTA with India has been signed recently and it was not against the national interest, he said the governments of both countries were moving forward for constructing the inter-country electricity transmission line and connecting it to the grid.
Minister Pandey said the PTA has paved the way for bringing in investment from India along with other countries for the development of hydropower and physical infrastructure in the country. He argued the agreement has opened a door for Nepal to abundant possibilities of development.
The government is committed to providing Machine Readable Passport (MRP) to service seekers in a quick and prompt manner, he said and added that the government has not been able to set up passport distribution centers outside the capital due to various administrative reasons.
A total of 2,329,447 MRPs were distributed in the past four years, the Foreign Minister informed the Committee, adding that arrangements have been made to collect applications for MRP from 28 centers outside the capital and all Nepali missions at abroad.
The government has adopted two processes for appointing ambassadors. Under the first process, eligible candidates will be chosen among from foreign service employees whereas under the second process, the nomination will be made on the recommendation of political parties, he said.
Recently, name of six bureaucrats from the foreign service have been recommended to the Parliamentary Public Hearing Committee for the appointment of ambassadorial posts, the Foreign Minister said.
According to Minister Pandey, the process of appointing the ambassador for Qatar has not been yet initiated as then Nepali Ambassador Maya Kumari Sharma (who was later called back) had filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court, claiming she was recalled illegally and the case is sub-judice. He said the Ministry was working to complete the appointment of ambassadors for seven countries before the Dashain.
MPs putting their views in the meeting called the government for sending competent candidate as ambassadors for other countries. The political parties also put aside their interests aside while recommending candidates for the post. Some lawmakers termed the signing of PTA with India as a great achievement for Nepal and stressed the need of its full utilisation.
The MPs suggested the government sign other agreements for power development on the basis of mutual interests soon. They stressed that all political parties and authorities concerned should contribute with full sense of accountability from their respective sides to make the SAARC Summit successful and boost up the country´s image in the SAARC.