US Calls on Nepal to Honor "Gentleman's Agreement"

A senior US State Department official called on Nepal to honor its commitment to allow free passage for Tibetan refugees to travel to India during his 3 day visit to Nepal.

Mr Atul Keshap, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, met with Nepal's Home Minister Bhim Rawal on Wednesday.

Keshap, whose visit follow Nepal's Deportation of three fleeing Tibetan refugees to Tibet in June, had expressed concerns over Nepal's actions that run counter to established procedure under the "Gentlemen's Agreement" which assumes cooperation among Nepalese police and government officials with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in providing for the safe transit of Tibetan refugees through Nepal and onward to India.

Rawal reiterated Nepal's commitment to the "one-China" policy while admitting that the Nepal's border with Chinese occupied Tibet remained “porous”, reports the Kathmandu Post. .

"Tibetans cross the Nepal-China border and enter India without a visa. Then they come back to Nepal and champion the Tibetan cause," the paper quoted Rawal as saying. "Can we allow such activities and let them demonstrate here?"

This is Mr Keshap's first visit to Nepal since becoming the Director of the Office of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Maldives Affairs at the Department of State, where he manages foreign policy coordination for the six countries.

Nepal is home to about 20,000 exiled Tibetans who began arriving in large numbers in 1959 after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against the Chinese.

Approximately 2,500 Tibetan refugees escape into exile annually, travelling through Nepal en route to Dharamsala in northern India where their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile are based. However the number of the Tibetan refugees escaping from Nepal has decreased in the recent years following China’s growing influence in Nepal.

Some information for this report was provided by KathmanduPost, Phayul and ICT