Welcome Speech delivered by Rt. Hon. Bidya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal, at the State Banquet hosted in honour of His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of the Republic of India, Kathmandu, 02 November 2016
Your Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Government and people of Nepal as well as on my own, I have the pleasure to extend a cordial welcome to Your Excellency and members of your delegation on your State Visit to Nepal.
We attach great importance to this State Visit as it has taken place after a long period of eighteen years. We are confident that your visit will be fruitful in further enhancing bilateral relations to our mutual advantage.
The people of Nepal hold you in high esteem as a good friend and a senior statesman of South Asia dedicated to the service of the country for five decades.
Nepal and India enjoy age-old relations marked by cordiality, goodwill, equality and mutual respect. Such closeness is further nurtured by strong social and cultural bonds and people-to-people ties.
We appreciate India’s support in Nepal’s development endeavours. India has made considerable progress in various fields during the last seven decades. We are keen to further expand and enhance bilateral economic relations.
We are grateful to the Government and people of India for their support for relief and rescue operations and reconstruction activities after the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal eighteen months ago. The Government of Nepal is now engaged in construction of houses and renovation of precious heritage sites and physical infrastructures affected by earthquake, and reconstruction campaign. We are confident that this endeavour will be successful with national resolve and goodwill of friendly countries.
The focus of the Constitution of Nepal promulgated last year is to safeguard and consolidate democratic gains that we have made in recent times. Our emphasis is now on execution of the constitution, post-earthquake reconstruction, and social and economic transformation to achieve national prosperity.
Nepal is a glorious country endowed with natural scenery and diverse culture. Tourists and explorers including Indians visit Nepal in large numbers.
As the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, an apostle of world peace, fraternity, compassion and humanity, we have been following a policy of enhancing peace and prosperity in our neighbourhood and rest of the world.
The aspirations of the people all over the world have grown tremendously with the evolution of democracy and unprecedented growth in social consciousness. Taking this aspect into consideration, world peace and prosperity can be ensured through observance of the rule of law and norms and values of human rights and equality, and just and universal distribution of the fruits of science and technology for raising the standards of living of the people.
It is a paradox that South Asia though endowed with human and material resources, has the largest concentration of poor people in the world. As poverty alleviation is the crying need of the region, we should enhance peace, stability and development, utilise available resources and create employment opportunities for people as a matter of priority. Promotion of mutual understanding and trust among nations will make a solid contribution for development of the region at a faster pace.
As women and children are the greatest victims of poverty, deprivation and conflict, we should enhance women empowerment and promote welfare of children to make the future generation more competitive and capable. We should also enhance the standards of comprehensive education and public health. Food security, potable water, sanitation and energy supply are other core areas. There is a need to jointly tackle negative impact of climate change and undertake suitable adaptation and mitigation measures with a view to safeguarding human lives and ensuring a secure and sustainable earth to posterity.
There is no doubt that your State Visit is sure to give a new momentum to our close bilateral ties, as it has come after regular exchange of visits by Prime Ministers of the two countries in the last two years.
Nepal is not a new place for you, as you have been here earlier. As you are visiting the historic city of Janakpur that remains a symbol of cultural relations between Nepal and India, and beautiful touristic city of Pokhara apart from Kathmandu, you will have the opportunity to study Nepal’s natural and cultural diversity at close quarters. I hope that your current visit will remain pleasant and memorable.
With these words, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, may
I ask you to join me in proposing a toast
-to good health and happiness of His Excellency the President of the Republic of India,
-to continued happiness, peace and progress of the friendly people of India, and
-to everlasting friendship and cooperation between Nepal and India.