KATHMANDU, 8 Feb: A team of experts has stressed national security and neighbourhood policy as top priority of Nepal's foreign policy. The experts were also for mainstreaming the economic diplomacy.
A High Level Task Force on Foreign Policy, comprised of foreign relations experts, professionals of international relations and security practitioners, urged the government to first prioritize 'neighbourhood with greater priority'- categorically mentioning India and China.
The team has also laid emphasis on the role of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in making foreign policy, greater engagements of Nepal's diplomatic missions abroad, Eminent Persons' Group and Nepal-India relations, relations with China and India, classification of countries and international bodies.
The task force suggested the Nepal Government that it reviewed seriously the current way of operating diplomacy, expressing grave concern over developing political consensus on foreign policy. Prescription is made for the ways and means of prudent handling of diplomacy, foreign policy on political transition, reorientation of nation's foreign policy in line with the new international environment.
In a move to well organize Nepal's foreign policy, the government had commissioned a task force headed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs last March.
As Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba currently holds the portfolio of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he had designated Professor Shreedhar Khatri, a veteran diplomat to lead the task force meant for preparation and submission of the report.
The report entitled 'Reorienting Nepal's Foreign Policy in a Rapidly Changing World' presented to the Prime Minister Thursday has encouraged the role of political leadership in diplomacy, their State and official visits, sectoral promotion including trade, foreign direct investment, promotion of tourism, on the plight of Nepali migrant workers and foreign policy from the security perspective, among others.
The report highlighting the importance of national interests has accorded the utmost urgency on protection of Nepal's security interests, safety of Nepali citizens abroad, protection of international peace and security, institutional improvement of foreign ministry, guidelines to Nepali missions abroad, coordination and monitoring of the activities of these entities.
Mobilization of non-government partners, Non-Resident Nepalis, private sector, actively contributing to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, security dimension of relations with Nepal's immediate neighbours, focus on border management, human security as foreign armies, establishing a coordinating mechanism, capacity building of security personnel to assist Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been given similar importance.
The report also accentuates on strengthening institutional mechanism, improving coordination between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and line ministries, between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Missions abroad, capacity building of foreign service officers, strengthening the Institute of Foreign Affairs and financing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the needs to the twenty-first century, among others.
Accepting the report, the Prime Minister assured that the suggestions and recommendations would be implemented honestly. He directed the Foreign Ministry to fully put into action the report. "Putting into practice of the report will enhance the national image in the international arena," the PM said.
Speaking to the National News Agency (RSS), Foreign Relations Expert to the Prime Minister, Dr Dinesh Bhattarai, said the report was a comprehensive document on foreign policy, and building national consensus on foreign policy, safeguarding nation's national interest and recommendation relating to long, mid and short term ways of improving as well as conducting diplomacy were of paramount importance.
The other members of the task force include former ambassador Rishi Raj Adhikari, former secretary and Minister Bidyadhar Mallik, former vice chair of National Planning Commission Shankar Sharma, former member of National Planning Commission Posh Raj Pandey, labour migration expert Dr Ganesh Gurung, Former Foreign Secretary Madhu Raman Acharya, former ambassador Shambhuram Simkhada, former secretary Mohan Banjade, retired Lieutenant General Pawan Bahadur Pandey, and international relations experts Deepak Prakash Bhatta, Indra Kumari Adhikari, Rajendra Bahadur Shrestha, Nischal Nath Pandey.
Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi had acted as the Member-Secretary of the task force while Under Secretary Ram Babu Dhakal had discharged his duty as a facilitator.