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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 22:00 GMT 23:00 UK
UK urges military aid for Nepal
Nepalese soldier
The conflict has claimed hundreds of lives

Britain has signalled that it is increasingly concerned about the security situation in Nepal and has urged greater international military aid for the government there.

British Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien said Nepal's struggle against Maoist insurgents should be seen as part of the wider war against terrorism.


There is clearly considerable concern... that Nepal's fragile democracy... may be not be able to survive without some outside gestures of support

He was speaking at the start of a two-day international conference in London on ways to help the Nepalese Government.

Conditions in the Himalayan kingdom have deteriorated alarmingly in the last few months, he said.

Officials from the US, Russia, China, India, Australia and several European countries are attending the London conference.

Mr O'Brien said Maoist insurgents already controlled areas in the mid-west of Nepal but were present in all of the country's 75 districts.

Despite, he said, a state of emergency in the country and countermeasures by the Royal Nepalese Amy, the insurgency - which he called barbaric - was creating widescale damage and disruption.

British boost

Mr O'Brien admitted that there was no evidence to link Nepal's militants to al-Qaeda or any other external terrorist organisation.

British Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien
O'Brien: Concern about the Nepalese insurgency
Nonetheless he said Britain now saw the problem as part of the wider global war against terrorism and was urging other countries to join its efforts to help the Nepalese Government.

Already Britain has increased its development aid to Nepal from 20 million (about $29m) last year to 27m ($40m) this year.

But more significantly, military aid to include training, equipment and logistics is to be boosted from a mere 700,000 ($1m) to 7m ($10m) this year.

There appears to be no plan to offer British troops to Nepal, nor even at this point to suggest a role for the Nepalese Gurkhas who serve in the British armed forces.

But there is clearly considerable concern among British officials that Nepal's fragile democracy, already shaken by the massacre of its royal family exactly a year ago this week, may be not be able to survive without some outside gestures of support.

Background to Nepal's Maoist war

Analysis

Eyewitness

Background:

BBC NEPALI SERVICE
See also:

19 Jun 02 | South Asia
14 Jun 02 | South Asia
27 May 02 | South Asia
23 Apr 02 | Country profiles
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