Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
"We aren’t worried about a big US presence in Nepal."

Himal Khabarpatrika: What does India think about Maoist problem in Nepal?
Ambassador Shyam Saran: Nepal's Maoist problem is also that of India. If there is devastation here, India will has to deal with the exodus of Nepalis into its territory. Nepal's Maoists have established their relations with Bihar's MCC and the People's War Group of Andhra Pradesh which could create critical situations in India. Such a problem should be solved together.

Do India's intelligence agencies have connections with the rebels?
Those who say so are deliberately talking nonsense. The Indian secret agencies have other problems to deal with from Kashmir to the northeast. As far as the Maoists using India as their refuge, we have the PWG, MCC and separatist groups who also hold meetings and get interviewed by journalists. If Nepal's Maoist rebels cross the border and reach India, how can you draw the conclusion that they came with Indian approval? I have nothing to say if people have preconceived notions that India is Nepal's enemy.

Do you think the Maoists have softened their stance on India in recent times?
I have no idea. Perhaps they too understood the grounds of the special relation between India and Nepal.

What kind of understanding does India have with the US regarding the conflict in Nepal?
Our foreign ministries have regularly exchanged opinions and these days our conclusions are similar. You may say that India, the UK and the US are on the same wavelength. The fact is India is Nepal's neighbour, so activities here directly affect us. It natural to have some differences on priorities. For the first time, the US is directly helping Nepal's security and there have been consultations between us. India does not have to be worried about the help the Nepali government is receiving from the US and the UK. We have an understanding that whatever Nepal needs will be supplied by India to the extent that it is possible. If that cannot be done, such requirements can be fulfilled from other sources. India is not worried about a big American presence in Nepal.

Have you tried to mediate between the palace and the parties?
As an ambassador, I naturally meet with the political leaders of this country. You can check with them, I have never expressed an opinion on their movement. That is not the job of an ambassador. India has held a uniform opinion since the beginning: the constitutional forces should be one to tackle their common danger. Since I am repeating it, it might sound like a mantra, but the constitutional monarch and the political parties must walk together.

India's cooperation and other activities have gone up suddenly as Nepal weakens.
If we are not involved in development and if we do not expand trade and economic relations, we are accused of doing nothing. Now that so many activities are taking place, why should it be seen as conspiracy and not as a positive development? All these projects will profit Nepal. India may also gain something but if India stands to gain a little bit from such projects, some people believe we are against Nepali interests. How can such an approach strengthen the relationship between our countries?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)