Australian Assistant Foreign Minister Watts in Kathmandu

KATHMANDU- Assistant Foreign Minister of Australia, Tim Watts, has arrived on a two-day visit of Nepal. The centrepiece of Mr Watts’ visit is going to be the handover of a 13th century wooden tunala (temple strut) from Ratneshwar Temple at Sulima Square to the local community in a ceremony organised at Patan Museum.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales has returned this important artefact to Nepal, and will be represented at the handover by Director Dr Michael Brand, according to a media release issued by the Australian Embassy in Kathmandu this morning. During the visit, Assistant Minister Watts is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud. He will convey Australia’s appreciation of its close cooperation with Nepal over 63 years of diplomatic relations and thriving people-to-people linkages. The Nepali community is Australia’s fastest growing migrant population and currently numbers around 130,000, adds the release.

The Australian Assistant Minister will also visit BioVac Nepal in Banepa, where academic and research cooperation and technology transfer from Australia has supported BioVac to become a state-of-the-art diagnostic and animal vaccine production facility. He will then visit the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (TIO). In the past thirty years, the Australian Government and the Fred Hollows Foundation have supported TIO’s work to provide eye care services in Nepal, as well as the manufacture of intraocular lenses for national and global distribution.

Likewise, Watts will hand over an Australian-made Portable Altitude Chamber to the Himalayan Rescue Association for its use at the Pheriche Medical Outpost and Everest ER Clinic at Everest Base Camp. It may be noted that Assistant Minister Watts’ visit to Nepal is part of a four-country program that includes his participation in the sixth Indian Ocean Conference in Bangladesh, and bilateral visits to Bhutan and India.

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