International Affairs


Your Majesty, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev,

Your Majesty Queen Aishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi Shah,

Your Royal Highness Prince Nirajan Bir Bikram Shah,


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government and the people of India, and my wife and myself, I have great pleasure in extending to your Majesties, your Royal Highness and to your distinguished delegation a very warm welcome to India. We are honoured and delighted by your gracious and auspicious presence as Chief Guest on the happy occasion of the Republic Day celebrations of India.

The peoples of India and Nepal have been, if I may use the phrase, civilizational soulmates, linked by immutable geography and immemorial history. And the Royal family of Nepal has enjoyed a legendary reputation in India. To-day we receive you not only as the Head of State of a neighbouring country but also as a genuine friend of India and as a leader of vision and wisdom.

My wife and I treasure the memories of our visit to your beautiful country in May last year. We recall the warmth and affection with which we were received, the gracious hospitality extended to us by your Majesties and your Government, and the consideration shown to us by all sections of Nepali leadership. The wide-ranging exchange of views we had with your Majesty, the members of your Majesty's Government and the leaders of political opinion in Nepal were of immense value to us, and I am glad to say that this process of dialogue has since gone on at different levels. I am confident that the present visit of your Majesty will be another golden milestone in our bilateral relationship.

Your Majesty, as we approach the next century we are faced with opportunities and challenges which are common or similar - the challenge of economic development, of harnessing the vast natural and human resources we are endowed with, improving the standard and the quality of living of our peoples and the challenge of regional co-operation. In meeting these challenges we, in India, have striven to follow the perspectives and vision bequeathed to us by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders. We have also, in the process, tried to inter-lock and harmonize our developmental strategies with the neighbouring countries who are engaged in a similar task. National boundaries, Your Majesty, define identities and sovereignties. But they do not inhibit over-leaping intellectual, cultural and economic co-operation. Indeed we have a common stake in the identity and development of each nation as well as of the region as a whole.

We are encouraged, Your Majesty, by the number of co-operative understandings and agreements that have been reached between our two countries in recent years. The Mahakali Treaty, agreements in the field of power, trade, investment, and civil aviation, the road transit route through India between Nepal and Bangladesh, and a vastly improved and liberalized Transit Treaty are examples. These have become possible because of the atmosphere of trust and goodwill that has grown between us, the increased consciousness of the commonality of interests and the sensitivity to each other's concerns in both countries. In this atmosphere I am confident that whatever issues may crop up between us, it would be possible to resolve them through dialogue in our traditionally friendly spirit.

Your Majesty, we live in a region which despite its common destiny and innumerable links, has inherited a legacy of distrust and division from its colonial history. India has tried to overcome that legacy through initiatives that build upon areas of commonality. We see in SAARC, whose Headquarters are in Kathmandu, the future destiny of South Asia taking shape. I believe that in the 21st century SAARC will emerge as a major force for peace and stability in Asia and the world. Terrorism, however, continues to menace peace and stability of States and comes in the way of co-operation in the region. India appreciates the co-operation Nepal has extended in fighting this insidious and dangerous scourge.

Between Nepal and India substantive links of trade, commerce, and economic, scientific and technological inter-changes have been institutionalized. There is already a free trade area in existence between us. So also, between India and Bhutan. Recently we have signed an agreement for a bilateral free trade area with Sri Lanka. I am optimistic the free trade area will gradually extend to the whole of South Asia. This is a consummation devoutly to be wished for.

Indo-Nepal relations are a guiding light in this evolving process of regional co-operation. Your Majesty, you bring from the Himalayan heights a visionary view that makes us, ancient soulmates, partners in modern progress.

There can be no question that this relationship is destined to become stronger and mutually rewarding in the years to come. India applauds Nepal's lively multi-party democracy, and believes that the Monarchy is a constitutional anchor, a centre of stability in democratic Nepal. In the conduct of our bilateral relationship, we shall continue to look to it for support, as we have done in the past. Your Majesty, you have played the role of a constitutional Head of State in challenging circumstances with mature statesmanship and understanding. We have no doubt that Nepal will continue to prosper under your wise leadership.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast

- to the health, happiness and long life of His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Her Majesty Queen Aishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi Shah,

- to the well being and prosperity of the people of Nepal,
- to the everlasting friendship between our two peoples and countries.

Thank you

Jai Hind