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US peace corps suspends program in Nepal
www.chinaview.cn 2004-09-17 13:09:01

      KATHMANDU, Sept. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- For the first time after formerUS President John F. Kennedy sent American volunteers to Nepal in 1962, the US Embassy to Nepal has announced to suspend the Peace Corps' activities in the Himalayan kingdom.

    The Peace Corps of the United States has suspended its program in Nepal after the bomb explosion by suspected Nepalese anti-government insurgents in the American Information Center in Kathmandu last Friday.

    US Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the suspension of its program in Nepal effective immediately, according to a press release issued by the American Information Center, available here Friday.

    "The safety and security of the volunteers are the number one priority of the Peace Corps and in light of the current conditionsin Nepal, suspension of the program is a necessary action," Vasquez said.

    "The Peace Corps had a successful 42-year program in Nepal, making great strides in the areas of small business development, education, environment, youth development and working on health and HIV/AIDS education and awareness," he added.

    The Peace Corps program in Nepal began in 1962. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers inthe South Asian country.

    Suspected insurgents exploded a bomb last Friday evening at theAmerican Information Center, the headquarters of the US Peace Corps and a semi-official US organization based in Nepal's capitalKathmandu.

    The bomb was thrown from outside the eastern side wall of the center compound in Gyaneshwar of downtown Kathmandu and damaged the roof of a toilet and a satellite communications disk. However,there was no major damage or human casualty in the incident.

    The American Information Center is funded by the US government,functioning as a cultural exchange organization in Nepal.

    The anti-government insurgents has intensified their violent activities targeting the government forces, state-owned companies and foreign invested enterprises across Nepal in recent weeks. They have demanded US companies to withdraw from Nepal.

    On last Sunday afternoon, the insurgents detonated a gas cylinder bomb on Bagmati bridge in downtown Kathmandu city injuring a dozen people.

    About 10,000 Nepalese people have lost their lives since the anti-government insurgency broke out in the Himalayan kingdom in early 1996.

    These attacks also prompted the US government to provide additional security assistance to Nepal to fight against the anti-government insurgency.

    Immediately after the attack on the American Information Center,the US government decided to provide 1 million US dollars in additional security assistance and will seek additional assistancefunding for its next fiscal year.

    During the last three years, Washington has increased its annual development assistance to Nepal from 20 million dollars to 40 million dollars every year in an attempt to help the Nepali government to fight the insurgency.

    US Ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty said last Friday, "We will work with Nepal to ensure that the rebels are never able to takeover Kathmandu."

    He also confirmed an emerging relationship between Washington and New Delhi to fight against the insurgency in Nepal.

    About 100 Nepalese police personnel are undergoing secret three-month training of anti-insurgency operations near Hyderabad, capital of the south-Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

    This is the first direct assistance being provided by India to Nepal in dealing with the Nepalese anti-government guerrillas. Thetraining comes in the wake of Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's official visit to India last week, during which New Delhi promised "all help" to its neighbor, including military hardware worth of millions of US dollars. Enditem


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