International Affairs

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 1998

H.E. Mr. G.P.Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal,

Ms. Sujata Koirala,


Distinguished Guests,

On behalf of my wife and my delegation and myself I would like to express my profound thanks for the generous hospitality extended to us.

I have come here with a strong delegation. I have with me the Commerce Minister Shri Ramakrishna Hegde, a senior Minister and an experienced politician. There are also four Members of Parliament, Prof(Ms) Rita Verma, Dr. Biplab Dasgupta, Shri G. Swaminathan and Shri V.M. Sudheeran belonging to different parties. All of us have been impressed and delighted by the welcome you have given us and what we have seen of the development of Nepal. In this distinguished gathering I see three former Prime Ministers of Nepal. This is very much like in India. This is a vivid expression of our vibrant democracies. Governments will come and go but all of them work for the common good of the country. I congratulate you for achieving a full fledged democracy.

Nepal has transformed greatly from what I saw years ago. Kathmandu is a throbbing, pulsating city with commercial, social and cultural activities. You mentioned India's role in various aspects of the economic life of Nepal. India considers the progress of Nepal as vital to India.

And of course India derives the greatest satisfaction from our cultural and social links. At Pasupathinath temple which I visited, it was amazing to see the intricate intertwining of our cultures. I wonder how in the ages past, our people travelled such distances over difficult terrains and left their imprints here.

These links need to be projected into our political relations. Whatever differences exist are minor hurdles which we can overcome and move forward for the common prosperity of our peoples.

India has always been a land of peace, from the times of the Buddha, of Gandhi, to the present times. We have the example of Ashoka who after a war, renounced all violence. Whatever technological achievements we have made, I am sure will be used for peaceful purposes. If great countries and great civilizations like yours (you had succeeded to remain independent) and ours could not resist colonialism, it is because of the technological superiority of the colonisers. Our efforts at nuclear disarmament are well known. However, we failed to achieve results. Those who have nuclear weapons, hold on to them. The majority have to stand up to them so that they cannot blackmail us as they did in the past. Let me assure you that we use our technology for economic benefits and for safeguarding us from any blackmail by the so called superior powers. We will be able to solve our problems with our neighbours. In Europe those who fought in the past, who still have nuclear weapons, live in friendship. India's efforts will also be for a similar evolution.

We are sensitive to your needs. There is an immense area in which we can cooperate. Nepal is rich in resources. We are also rich, but our needs are immense. We can work together without in any way impinging on each other.

I am here in a critical time. I know how deep is our friendship on the basis of culture, network of human relationships and excellent relationships between the leaders. We can work for the good of our two countries.

May I invite you to please raise your glasses in a toast to the health and happiness of His Majesty the King of Nepal and the friendly cooperation between India and Nepal.

Thank you

Jai Hind