Nepal Today

Thursday, March 21, 2013

NRB INVESTIGATING ASSETS, BANK ACCOUNTS OF SOME LEADERS AND THEIR RELATIVES Kathmandu, 22 March: Nepal Rashtra Bank (NRB) has launched into the property unnatural financial dealings of leaders of various political parties, Nagarik reports. Financial dealings and assets of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Agni Sapkota, Hishila Yami, Hridesh Tripthi Sujjata Koirala, former Communication Minister Raj KishoreYadav and Bijaya Kumar Gachedhar ate being investigated. A unit of the central bank is investigating the assets and bank accounts of the leaders and their relatives.. Nnnn MAOISTS COME OUT PUBLICLY IN SUPPORT OF CNVICTED MURDERER Kathmandu, 22 March: With all the top three leaders of the Unified CPN-Maoist eyeing more spots for their confidantes than others in the party’s Central Committee, the committee meeting held to select the remaining 53 members of the 151-member committee today [Thursday was put off after a brief discussion. A senior party leader claimed that the party failed to select the remaining Central Committee members, as Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairmen Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha have been trying to get as many seats as possible for leaders of their camps in the Central Committee. All the three leaders had recommended their candidates through respective state committees but the Central Committee failed to make the selections. However, a senior leader of the party close to Chairman Dahal, Haribol Gajurel, claimed that the meeting was postponed till March 25 because the party’s top leaders were busy and not because of any dispute over selection of remaining CC members. Dhungel innocent: Dahal Former prime minister and Chairman of Unified CPN-Maoist Pushpa Kamal Dahal claimed on Thursday that Bal Krishna Dhungel — convicted by the apex court of murder of Ujjan Kumar Shrestha — was innocent. Issuing a press statement here, Dahal said, “Party wants to make it clear that comrade Bal Krishna Dhungel was not involved in Ujjan Kumar Shrestha’s murder in 1998.” He also claimed that Dhungel was framed in the case and had already served eight years in jail. Nnnn TOP UN OFFICIAL SAYS SERIOUS CONCERNS RAISED ON TRC FORMATION Kathmandu, 22 March: United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman today [Thursday] said that he raised the UN’s serious concerns about the ordinance on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was issued by President Ram Baran Yadav last week. Feltman, while addressing a press meet before wrapping up his three-day Nepal visit at the Tribhuvan International Airport this afternoon, said he raised UN concerns, during his meetings with top government officials and key political figures, that the TRC ordinance does not meet international standards . Feltman, who arrived on Tuesday in capacity of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s envoy to take stock of political situation and electoral process in Nepal, had called on President Yadav, Chairman of Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi and met top politicians, including Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidhya and representatives of the civil society and diplomatic community. “Already, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also raised its concerns about it,” said Feltman. He, however, did not elaborate what the UN concerns were. Nevertheless, issuing a strongly worded statement in Geneva yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had regretted the passing of the ordinance to establish the TRC with the authority to recommend amnesty to serious human rights violations. She said she was ‘particularly disturbed that the text of the ordinance was developed and passed in a secretive manner, without consultations with civil society, victims, families of the victims or even the national human rights institutions’. Nnnn XI TO VISIT RUSSIA ON FIRST FOREIGN VISIT Kathmandu, 22 March: Decorated with Chinese paintings and red silk armchairs, a huge business complex on the edge of Moscow is the kind of enterprise China's new leader Xi Jinping wants to nurture when he arrives on Friday in Russia for his first overseas trip, Reuters reports from Moscow.. Just off the traffic-choked highway ringing Moscow, a jumble of Chinese and Russian firms, a 400-room hotel and conference venues sprawl over the 200-square-kilometre (77 square miles), $350 million Greenwood complex, which was built by a Beijing-controlled consortium with materials shipped from China. Just as Xi will be alert to economic opportunities, so his host, President Vladimir Putin, will aim to "catch the Chinese wind in our economic sail", as he phrased it a year ago, just before his-re-election to the presidency. That desire will grow stronger if China overtakes the United States as the world's largest economy during Xi's 10-year term. The world's largest energy producer, Russia, and its most voracious consumer, China, want to bolster their common clout as a financial and geopolitical counterweight to Europe and the United States, whose "Asia pivot" regional strategy has caused concern in China. Putin and Xi, less than a year apart in age, echoed one another in interviews before the visit, each saying the Chinese leader's choice of Moscow as his first destination was evidence of the "strategic partnership" between the nations. A smiling Xi, 59, recalled that he read Russian greats such as Alexander Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy in his younger days. Putin, 60, said Russian-Chinese relations were at "the best in their centuries-long history". The two U.N. Security Council members' solidarity on important global issues has, if anything, strengthened in recent years. They have joined forces three times to block Western-backed measures on the conflict in Syria despite talk of grumbling in Beijing, and Russia has followed China's lead on North Korea - two issues likely to come up in talks on Friday. They have negotiated alongside the West on Iran's nuclear program but watered down past sanctions in the Security Council and opposed new punitive measures as counterproductive. Russia has added to Japan's woes over territorial disputes with Beijing by playing up its control over an archipelago claimed by Tokyo. But that lockstep movement on the global stage has not translated into easy agreement on bilateral energy deals. While industry sources said a package of deals to be signed would make Beijing Russia's top customer for oil, prospects for a long-sought agreement on supplies of pipeline gas to China, stymied for years by price disputes, were dimmer. Xi's presidency is seen as a chance for a fresh start in such talks, which have foundered on price. Putin's spokesman spoke of a "positive dynamic" on Thursday but said there was no deal ready for signing. In his interview, released by the Kremlin hours before Xi's planned arrival, Putin said bilateral trade had more than doubled in five years and reached $87.5 billion in 2012. "The two countries want more economic cooperation and we're not just talking about oil and gas companies, but also smaller companies as well. They are at the fore," said Yevgeny Kolesov, director of Optim Consulting, the first Russian consulting company to open in China. But the trade volume is about five times smaller than Russia's with the European Union, and also far smaller than China's trade with the United States. The rising influence of China, with its proximity to Russia's sparsely populated eastern parts and nearly 10 times more people, has given rise in Russia to worries that China may one day challenge Moscow's influence on its own territory. Russia has created a separate ministry to channel resources to its far east, which complains of neglect and underfunding more than 20 years after the Soviet Union collapsed. FAR EAST FEARS Defense analysts say Russian efforts to allocate military resources, including air defenses and nuclear submarines, to its eastern coast is an effort to counter China's rising military might - even as Russia sells weapons to its neighbor. Like their populations, their economies are uneven. China's gross domestic product grew 7.8 percent last year, while Russia's growth was about 3.5 percent and was close to stagnating in February, with 0.1 percent year-on-year growth. "Economically, Russia is very concerned about the balance ... but it hasn't shown up on a political level yet," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. In some ways, the partnership between Moscow and Beijing - awkward allies even when both were ruled by communists - may be more tactical than strategic. For now, China wants to show it does not want problems on its border with Russia - the site of clashes half a century ago - said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank. It also wants the Russian oil that helps keep its economy flowing. "The Chinese have been tremendously successful at playing the Russians to their own advantage, much better than the Americans have done with Russia," Trenin said. Xi and Putin are expected to attend a summit next week of the BRICS group of emerging market economies, which also includes Brazil, India and host South Africa, and the Chinese leader will visit other African nations Beijing is courting. The Chinese leader is bringing first lady Peng Liyuan on the state visit, which has left Kremlin watchers wondering whether Putin's wife, Lyudmila, will make a rare public appearance. nnnn


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