Holds "informal" meeting with EU envoys keeping MoFA in dark
KATHMANDU, Sept 15: Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayankaji Shrestha, who lately has been very particular about maintaining diplomatic decorum, has himself violated the diplomatic code of conduct by hosting an “informal” dinner for envoys of the European countries.
In stark violation of the Diplomatic Code of Conduct 2068 BS, which makes it mandatory for representatives from foreign ministry to be present in all meetings between sitting ministers and diplomats, Shrestha held an “informal” dinner meeting with the ambassadors of European Union (EU) countries at his official residence in Pulchowk on Wednesday evening.
Minister Shrestha neither informed the foreign ministry nor invited the MoFA officials to the meeting.
According to foreign ministry officials, the invitation to the envoys for the dinner was not sent through MoFA. The Diplomatic Code of Conduct 2068 B.S. has made it mandatory for the official of the concerned division to participate in the meeting to note down the details of the meeting.
Altogether eight EU envoys attended the dinner hosted by Shrestha purportedly to “improve souring relations” after MoFA asked them not to hold a meeting with President Dr Ram Baran Yadav. The envoys wanted to meet the president to express their concerns over the proposed ordinances on the truth and reconciliation, and disappearance commissions.
The envoys of the UK, France, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Finland and acting envoys of Germany and EU were present at the meeting that lasted for two hours.“Normally, discussions on bilateral relations and other issues of bilateral concern are held between sitting ministers and ambassadors. Such a meeting cannot be termed an informal meeting,” argued MoFA officials.
The relations between DPM Shrestha and EU envoys had strained after MoFA suggested in writing to President Yadav to not hold a meeting with the envoys, who had sought an appointment with the president on the International Disappearance Day.
Officials said it was not appropriate of both in terms of protocol and system for a sitting deputy prime minister to host dinner for diplomats without informing MoFA. “Shrestha making fuss about the prime minister meeting his Indian counterpart during the NAM summit sounds hollow as he himself has violated the diplomatic code of conduct,” said a MoFA official.
Interestingly, Shrestha had publicly criticized the prime minister for holding a one-and-one meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the NAM Summit.
Though the meeting has been termed an “informal” one, Shrestha and the envoys are learnt to have dwelled on issues of bilateral interest and increased assistance to Nepal. Moreover, MoFA does not have any record as to what transpired at the meeting. “Does it mean that the foreign minister is above the diplomatic code of conduct,” questioned a senior MoFA official.