Nepal is not part of America’s Indo-Pacific strategy despite the Himalayan nation’s central role in the region, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has said.
Gyawali returned to Nepal on Saturday after wrapping up his five-day visit to the US during which he held talks with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo on a range of issues.
“We discussed Nepal’s central role in the Indo-Pacific region, but not on the basis of strategic partnership,” he told reporters, rejecting media reports that the two leaders discussed any such strategy.
The Indo-Pacific strategy aims to connect the USA with the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region with a view to counter Chinese influence and promoting US interests in the region.
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
The US has conducted a series of “freedom of navigation” exercises in the disputed South China Sea, triggering protests from Beijing over what it says is infringement of sovereignty. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan are also claimants.
Gyawali said he also discussed with Pompeo the peace process in the Korean Peninsula.
He said the two sides also discussed possible bilateral visits at the level of head of the government or state.
There has not been such visits between the two countries in the past three decades. In 1983, then King Birendra had made an official visit to the US.