US helping Nepalese soldiers
by Kedar Man Singh
A team of 49 military experts from the
United States is in Nepal to train soldiers to better fight Maoist
rebels, diplomats said.
Robert K. Boggs, deputy head of the US
embassy here, said the team was working with the Nepalese army
in areas most affected by the six-year Maoist insurgency and would
be in the country for a few weeks.
"They are really helping the Nepalese
army," he said.
"But the US army team is not here,
I repeat, not here to launch a joint military operation against
the Maoist rebels," Boggs said, refuting such claims made
in the local media.
He said the team would also train the
Nepalese army to operate arms it had recently acquired from the
A consignment of 3,000 M-16 rifles from
the United States arrived in Nepal this month. It was part of
a total 5,000 rifles Washington agreed to provide Nepal, Boggs
The consignment was unrelated to 12 million
dollars offered this month by the United States to help the government
in its battle with the Maoists, which has claimed more than 7,700
Boggs said President George Bush had also
asked the US Congress for an additional grant of 20 million dollars.
Last year a military team from the US
Pacific command toured far western parts of the Himalayan kingdom
to assess the government's needs.
Washington is said to be dismayed by the
growing strength of the insurgency, concerned for both its human
cost and the threat it poses to democracy in Nepal.
The State Department has issued several
warnings to Americans in the kingdom in the wake of repeated Maoist
threats against Washington's diplomats.
The killing by suspected Maoists of two
local US-employed security guards last year and in December 2001
has also raised concern.
The Maoists resent any financial aid offered
by Washington to the Nepalese government. They have twice attacked
and damaged Coca-Cola factories in Nepal in protest.