218. Telegram From the Embassy in Nepal to the Department of State1

3278. Subj: Call on Prime Minister: Economic Aid, Narcotics, and Human Rights.

1. Accompanied by DCM Eaves, I made my initial call on Prime Minister Giri August 3. Foreign Office note taker also present.

2. After expressing my pleasure at the continuing excellent state of Nepali-U.S. relations, which Prime Minister shared, I told the Prime Minister that, without getting into detailed discussion during what was courtesy call, I thought it would be useful to alert him to three areas of activity, development assistance, human rights and narcotics, to which U.S. administration was giving high priority and which, to one degree or another, might have bearing on our bilateral relationship.

3. First of these subject had been mentioned in my remarks at the presentation of credentials,2 i.e., the administration’s strong interest in increasing economic assistance to the least developed countries, such as Nepal. This, I noted looked like good news for Nepal, assuming of [Page 544] course, congressional support for the President’s initiatives in this area, and we looked forward to contributing in greater measure to helping meet Nepal’s development needs on the basis of the development policies and priorities which Nepal sets for itself.

4. Second area of priority in our foreign policy was international narcotics control, and a third was promotion of human rights, and both of these were closely related to the policy of increased economic assistance, as reflected, for example, in congressional legislation on aid and human rights passed last week.3 (USIS Kathmandu has issued text of Wireless File item on congressional action as press release4 and I left copy with Giri drawing his attention to congressional language on human rights.) I told the Prime Minister that it was therefore possible we would need to have discussions on these subjects from time to time in the future in order that we understand each other’s position fully and fairly. In that connection, I noted that DCM Eaves (then Charge) had a short time ago discussed with the Prime Minister certain developments with regard to narcotics in Nepal that were causing some concern in Washington (Kathmandu 2374),5 and that our concern over these developments had also been communicated to Ambassador Khatri by the State Department.6 I told the Prime Minister I would be interested in any further comments the GON might have on these matters.

5. The Prime Minister replied that he appreciated my remarks and looked forward to candid discussions of such matters whenever it seemed desirable. He said his door would always be open for such discussions. He welcomed the prospect of increased economic assistance from the U.S. and also our recognition of Nepal’s interest in developing “in the Nepalese way”. With regard to narcotics, the Prime Minister said he saw no serious problem. However, as the government began to implement its narcotics legislation, it was getting complaints from people who had traditionally used wild-growing cannabis for a variety of economic purposes and they were asking for either exemption from the legislation or for assistance in crop substitution. The government has not yet decided its course on this matter. With regard to the possible cultivation of opium on a controlled basis, the government has been giving some consideration to this, in response to shows of interest by “two or three governments” in purchasing opium from Nepal, but no decision has been reached. I said we have had some experience on such matters as crop substitution or other economic [Page 545] measures to help farmers and we were ready to discuss this with GON at any time. On the question of opium production, this was a very serious matter and I hoped we would have opportunity to present our views fully if GON decided to consider such a step. Giri said GON would certainly keep in touch with us.

6. On human rights, the Prime Minister said he hoped there would be no problem but he could foresee some possible differences of opinion. Nepal was committed to a partyless system of government, but had a Panchayat system which allowed for popular participation in a way which the GON considered suitable to Nepalese conditions. If the non-existence of political parties were considered by others to be inconsistent with human rights, then there could be a difference of opinion. Similarly, he could foresee a possible difference of opinion on so-called “political prisoners”. GON had no objection to political activity by persons who accepted Panchayat system and sought to work within its framework. However, Nepal had under detention some people who had committed criminal acts in connection with their political activities aimed at changing the present system of government. This was treason. Comment: This is same view Shah takes against political activists in Iran. End comment. Nepal, he said, would of course adhere to the system it believed best suited to its own conditions and needs, “U.S. aid or no”. However, he believed it would be useful to have candid discussions of any problems which might arise in this area and he hoped that any differences of opinion could be resolved through such discussions. He again reiterated his availability for talks at any time.

7. I thanked the Prime Minister for his candor and said I welcomed his receptivity to further discussions on these subjects should the need arise. The Prime Minister was friendly and attentive during my remarks and forthcoming in his responses, and I believe this was a useful beginning in preparing the way for further discussions on narcotics and human rights.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770281–0021. Confidential. Sent for information to New Delhi.
  2. Heck presented his credentials on July 29.
  3. Reference is to the International Development and Food Assistance Act of 1977 (P.L. 95–88), enacted on August 3.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. See footnote 5, Document 217.
  6. See Document 217.