Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"Don't bypass MoFA", Nepal

Nepal: You have been criticised for taking a two-month leave that led to dillydallying on the Prime Minister's visit to China and the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Nepal.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha: I wasn't on holiday, I was convalescing. I have been pressing for the Prime Minister's visit to China as much as I had pushed for Chinese Prime Minister's visit to Nepal. It is in the records of China's Foreign Ministry. As for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Nepal's visit, he was supposed to here around 27 May but the situation here hasn't improved since then so his visit got shelved.

And what was your reason for writing to the American Embassy?
We wrote to them seeking transparency. The American ambassador met the president and the army chief, and for the first time the ministry didn't know about those meetings. They have been cooperative about this, and now there is a representative of the ministry at such meetings.

Do you think the President has bypassed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
It isn't just plain carelessness here, it has been happening repeatedly and the bypassing looks intentional. This is not just about one country, and I wouldn't blame the foreigners. It's our fault that we encourage others to meddle in our affairs and put our national sovereignty in danger. In a republic, the only adviser to a constitutional president is the government. All foreign visits and meetings are arranged through the MoFA. However, the recent meetings that made headlines took place without the ministry's knowledge.

And what about the Prime Minister?
Although most of his diplomatic meetings and visits are arranged through MoFA, there have been some instances when we've come to know about some meetings only through the media. If such meetings take place repeatedly without our knowledge, I make it a point to bring not just the ministers' but even the Prime Minister's attention to the diplomatic code of conduct.

The party has nominated you as an alternative candidate for the PM's post, but you have been hinting at leaving politics. Are you serious?
My remarks about leaving politics were in a different context, and my frustration is with the diplomatic code of conduct being flouted by top leaders. It is disheartening that the change that was brought about by the sacrifice of thousands of Nepalis is being squandered. I feel guilty and responsible for this lapse. However, that doesn't mean I have decided to quit the party. As for being nominated, I have made it clear that I will never be a prime minister who compromises on the issue of national sovereignty.

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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)