Nepal

Secretary-General lauds Nepalese peace efforts on arrival in Kathmandu

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded the "historic" progress made by the people of Nepal to restore peace and stability and reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to continue to support those efforts, as he began an official visit to Kathmandu.

"I come to congratulate the people of Nepal for the remarkable historic progress they have made in establishing peace, and in particular, for the successful election of the Constituent Assembly in a largely peaceful process last April that has earned the admiration and respect of the entire international community," Mr. Ban said in a statement issued after his arrival in the Nepalese capital.

Nepal endured a decade-long civil war that claimed an estimated 13,000 lives until the Government and the Maoists signed a peace deal in 2006 and conducted Constituent Assembly elections earlier this year.

In May, the South Asian nation abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic. Ram Baran Yadav was subsequently elected as the country's first President.

The UN has been assisting Nepal in its peace process through a special political mission, known as UNMIN, set up in January 2007. As part of its mandate, UNMIN monitors the management of arms and armed personnel of both the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and the Nepal Army, and assists in monitoring ceasefire arrangements.

"I am proud that the UN has been a close partner in Nepal's development effort, in its struggle to end the 10-year conflict, in the fight to promote and defend human rights, and in the implementation of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement," Mr. Ban stated.

"I look forward to having fruitful discussions with my hosts, including on how UNMIN and the rest of the UN family can contribute to the completion of the peace process and to long-term peace building and development," he added.

Tomorrow Mr. Ban will meet with President Yadav, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, other officials and members of the Constituent Assembly. He will also visit Lumbini, the Buddha's birthplace.

The Secretary-General arrived in Nepal from India, where he wrapped up his two-day visit today with meetings with President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, as well as with the UN Country Team.

Speaking to reporters before his departure, he said it had pleased him to have arrived in India on the 63rd anniversary of the country's admission to the UN. He added that it is truly impressive how much India has achieved since then, as a leading voice in the developing world, as a long-established democracy and as a growing economic power.

Following his visit to Nepal, Mr. Ban will travel to Bangladesh, the final stop on a trip that also took him to the Philippines.