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Brits continue military aid to King of Nepal

by The Himalayan Times Saturday, Feb. 08, 2003 at 1:45 PM

Britain provided 6.7 million sterling pound for the current British fiscal year reinforcing Nepal's development, military and police capacity.

Truce not to affect military aid: UK

"Himalayan News Service",

Kathmandu, February 6,

Britain today indicated that it would continue to provide military assistance to Nepal despite the ceasefire, but the assistance would mainly focus on training of the Royal Nepalese Army.

The indication came following the visit of the United Kingdom's interdepartmental mission that concluded its weeklong visit to Nepal today.

"We look at Nepal's needs independently," said a member of the mission. "The military assistance will continue and there will be no decline in the aid next fiscal year (beginning April)."

The mission was led by Stephen Smith, head of the South Asian Department, and comprised senior officials from the British Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development.

Britain provided 6.7 million sterling pound under the Global Conflict Prevention Pool for the current British fiscal year ending in March. Projects funded from the pool aim at short-term development and reinforcing Nepal's development, military and police capacity.

London welcomed the government-Maoist ceasefire as an "important and positive development," and expressed the hope that the ceasefire will lead to a negotiated settlement and pave way from peace in Nepal.

Britain has also expressed its interest in supporting, if Nepal so desires, the peace process since a lot of work needs to be done, and it is vital that all groups in Nepal do everything they can to end the pain and suffering this conflict has caused.

The mission also met King Gyanendra, government leaders, defence officials and development partners, and reiterated Britain's commitment to work with Nepal towards lasting peace in the country.

Britain also contributes over 22 million sterling pound as annual bilateral development assistance to Nepal.

Elsewhere, France and Russia welcomed the peace talks in Nepal, expressing their desires to see the bloodshed end in the small, impoverished country.
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