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US Troubled by Nepal Emergency Declaration

The United States has supported the Nepalese government in its struggle with a long-running Maoist insurgency.

But it is flatly opposing Tuesday's emergency decree by King Gyanendra, who said he was seizing all state powers and suspending constitutional rights, in part because of the civilian government's failure to defeat the insurgents.

At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States is deeply troubled by what he termed the apparent step back from democracy in Nepal, which he said will not help the country deal with the left-wing rebellion.

"In addition to undercutting Nepal's democratic institutions, the actions we feel undermine the Nepali struggle with the Maoist insurgency, which is a very serious challenge to a peaceful and prosperous future for Nepal," he said. "As we have repeatedly said, we support a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Nepal. The protection of civil and human rights and strengthening of multi-party democracy are key components in Nepal's progressing down this path."

Mr. Boucher said the United States is urging an immediate move toward the restoration of democratic institutions in the kingdom under a constitutional monarchy. He said it also continues to urge the Maoists to abandon their armed struggle and join the country's political mainstream through dialogue.

The spokesman said the State Department is in close touch on the situation with the U.S. embassy in the capital, Kathmandu, and that there were no reports of American residents or tourists in Nepal being harmed.

He said the emergency measures have disrupted the embassy's access to the government, but that U.S. diplomats intend to raise their concerns about the emergency crackdown directly with senior officials including the king.

The United States has provided about $20 million in recent years to help Nepal's military deal with the insurgency. In 2003, it also designated the Maoist rebels of the Communist Party of Nepal as a terrorist organization, blocking its assets and barring Americans from financial dealings with it.