U.S. warns of possible Nepal aid cutoff

February 18, 2005|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON - The United States could cut off aid to Nepal if King Gyanendra - who declared emergency rule, sacked the government and jailed civil society leaders more than two weeks ago - does not quickly restore basic rights and move toward democracy, the U.S. ambassador to Katmandu said yesterday.

"Assistance to Nepal is at some risk, particularly security assistance," said James Moriarty, a former National Security Council official who was posted to the Himalayan kingdom by President Bush about seven months ago.

The Bush administration's tough message to the king, which Moriarty said would be coordinated with U.S. allies, came on the same day that Amnesty International warned that a "human-rights catastrophe is looming" in Nepal after Gyanendra's sweeping emergency decree.

The crisis began Feb. 1 when Gyanendra dismissed his third government since 2002 by issuing a proclamation delivered on Nepalese television before cutting off his country from the outside world.

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