Remarks by Ambassador H.E. Sridhar Khatri
At the reception dinner hosted by him
On the occasion of the Constitution Day and National Day of Nepal
At his official residence in Washington, D.C.
On 19 September 2022
Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Dean Thompson,
Officials from various Departments and Agencies of the US Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Namaste! Good evening!
On behalf of the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, D.C., I would like to welcome you all to this official ceremony marking the Constitution Day, and the National Day of Nepal. Thank you for accepting our invitation.
I would like to welcome Acting Assistant Secretary, Dean Thompson as the chief guest of today’s ceremony. It is such a happy coincidence and a great privilege for me to congratulate Dean on your nomination as the next American Ambassador to Nepal.
On this happy occasion, let me begin by extending my warm greetings and best wishes to my Nepali compatriots living in the United States and to our American friends, both of whom are the most valuable assets that Nepal has in this great country.
The Constitution of Nepal was promulgated on 20 September 2015 through the hard work of two different Constituent Assemblies, whose results were finally endorsed by an overwhelming majority. The Constitution institutionalizes historic political gains achieved by the Nepali people through their successive struggles for democracy that started in 1951. It is Nepal’s first Constitution drafted by the people’s elected representative. It enshrines universal values of democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms, human rights and human dignity, while also equally emphasizing equality, social justice, diversity, inclusion and environmental sustainability.
As we all know, democracy with all its limitations and flaws is still the best form of governance to all other alternatives. Alternative to democracy can only be a better and more vibrant democracy. Our Constitution draws lessons from successful and established democracies around the world, including the United States. Where else could we turn for inspiration than the very land of Abraham Lincoln? As President Lincoln rightly said, “The people’s will, constitutionally expressed, is the ultimate law for all.” This democratic spirit is at the very core of our constitution.
Nepal’s focus now is on socio-economic transformation for uplifting the living conditions of ordinary people. Sustainable economic development and social justice is essential to sustain and nourish democracy in the long run. In this context, Nepal looks forward to its continued partnership with its friends and well wishers across the world in its development efforts.
Excellencies, distinguished guests, dear friends,
Nepal and the United States of America enjoy longstanding cordial and cooperative bilateral relations. This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between our two countries. As many of you are already aware, when we established our diplomatic relations on 25th April 1947, the United States became the second country with which Nepal established diplomatic ties, after the United Kingdom. Nepal values highly the ties we have developed in the past seven and half decades.
Our bilateral relation draws its strength from many commonalities and shared values between us, including our rich cultural diversity and our national character. As a Nonaligned country, Nepal wishes to see the United States continue its pioneering engagements globally in dealing with many global commons in collaboration and cooperation with other nations. Nepal will continue to work together with the United States in addressing the pressing global challenges such as tackling the climate change, fighting the pandemic, containing terrorism and violent extremism.
Nepal welcomes and appreciates President Biden’s priorities on climate change, ending global inequalities and promoting a rules-based international order by further strengthening multilateral institutions such as the UN. We appreciate President Biden’s recent initiatives such as the hosting of the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April 2021 and the Summit for Democracy held in December the same year. Our Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Sher Bahadur Deuba, participated in the Summit for Democracy on the invitation of President Biden. Nepal looks forward to participating in the next summit as well.
The Government and people of Nepal appreciate the support and cooperation of the United States has provided to our development efforts, as it remains one of the oldest among the major bilateral development partners of Nepal. Our bilateral development cooperation reached a historic milestone this year with the passage of the Bill by the Nepali Parliament on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant in February of this year. We are confident that our joint partnership in implementing this program will lead to construction of major infrastructure projects that are badly needed for our national development.
We are also grateful for the generous support provided by the United States in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The 6 million COVID-19 vaccines provided to us, which was developed by some of the leading drug companies in this country, along with the plane loads of essential medical supplies have saved many lives in Nepal. We remain indebted to the US government and the American people for its generosity in our times of need.
Another important facet of our bilateral relations is the longstanding cooperation and exchanges between Nepal Army and the US Army. We appreciate US support for the capacity enhancement of Nepal Army, including in the areas of professional development of its personnel, UN peace keeping operations, disaster preparedness, and rescue and relief operations.
As it goes without saying, there exist plenty of opportunities for further collaboration and cooperation between our two countries, including in the area of trade, investment, and tourism. Due to Nepal’s unique geographic location and proximity to the two of the world’s largest and fast expanding markets—India and China—and its young population educated in English medium, Nepal offers promising opportunities for US investors, especially in services sectors such as information technology, education, tourism, as well as other technology intensive sectors. I am personally passionate about the possibilities of cooperation in the IT sector, which I believe will be a game changer for Nepal.
Our official relations are also reinforced by engagements at people’s level. Nearly four-thousand US Peace Corps volunteers have served in Nepal in the past six decades. Annually, nearly one hundred thousand American tourists visit Nepal. In terms of numbers, Nepali students in the US rank 12th largest in the US when compared with those coming here from the rest of the world. All these factors, along with the sizeable Nepali Diaspora in the United States, creates bonds of friendship that can only grow in the years to come.
Since I arrived in Washington D.C. nearly six months ago, my first and foremost priority has been to build on these relations that have been built over the past 75 years. I’ve been most fortunate to have the support of various individuals from the many departments and agencies of the US government, including the outgoing American Ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, who has done a fantastic job in further elevating our bilateral ties.
On behalf of my colleagues at the Nepal Embassy, let me again thank you for joining us for this special occasion tonight.
I am confident that the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Nepal and the United States will achieve newer heights in the days to come.
With these words, let me propose a toast –
To the 75 years of close friendship between Nepal and the USA, and
To the continued progress and prosperity of the Nepali and American peoples!