US lawmaker threatens Nepal aid over Tibetans

Nepal is the main route for Tibetans who seek to go into exile.

Updated: Nov 05, 2011, 00:01 AM IST

Washington: A US lawmaker has threatened to
strip Nepal of its millions of dollars in US aid unless it
permits refugees fleeing Chinese rule in Tibet to transit
through the country.

Nepal is the main route for Tibetans who seek to go into
exile, but the country has increasingly cracked down on
Tibetans` movement and activities out of fear of upsetting its
giant neighbor to the north.

Representative Frank Wolf, who sits on the House
Appropriations Committee that determines US funding, said he
would try to block funding to Nepal unless it grants exit
visas to Tibetans who seek refuge in the United States.

"We`re not just going to cut them, we`re going to zero
them out," said Wolf, a Republican from Virginia and outspoken
critic of China.

"If they`re not willing to do it, then they don`t share
our values and if they don`t share our values, we do not want
to share our dollars," he told a congressional hearing on
Tibet yesterday.

Wolf said he would propose the aid cutoff if Nepal`s
record does not improve by the time the United States looks at
foreign aid funding next year.

Human rights groups have frequently accused Nepal of
arbitrary arrests and harassment of Tibetans. In July, Nepal
prevented its 20,000-strong Tibetan community from celebrating
the birthday of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The United States has supported Nepal as the Himalayan
nation recovers from a bloody decade-long civil war.

The US Agency for International Development says it sought
USD 57.7 million for Nepal in the 2010 fiscal year and that
its efforts to provide the developing nation`s children with
Vitamin A have averted some 15,000 deaths a year.