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South and Central Asia: Remarks at a Dinner Reception in Honor of Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali of Nepal

Good evening. Namaste. Thank you Ambassador Karki and Mrs. Thakuri for hosting this lovely reception.

Foreign Minister Gyawali, Foreign Secretary Bairagi, members of your visiting delegation, distinguished guests and friends: It is my honor to join you tonight in celebrating U.S.-Nepal ties.

And I am delighted to be joined by our Ambassador in Kathmandu, Randy Berry, as well as by other senior representatives from the State Department, National Security Council, Department of Defense, Millennium Challenge Corporation, USAID, and other agencies.

The broad U.S. government representation here tonight, along with members of civil society and the business community, demonstrates the depth of the friendship between our countries and the breadth of our partnership.

Just a few hours ago, Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Gyawali met at the Department of State and reaffirmed our strong respective commitments to the U.S.-Nepal partnership. They discussed new ways to advance our mutual interests through closer cooperation. This historic meeting opened a new chapter in the story of our friendship.

America’s commitment to Nepal has been steadfast for over seven decades.

We stood alongside the people of Nepal on their journey toward democracy, and the American people have made possible decades of support for Nepal’s economic development. Today, we continue to stand by Nepal in support of economic reforms that will increase living standards, attract U.S. investment, and lead to enduring prosperity.

The United States has a profound stake in the success of your country. Nepal occupies a special place in an Indo-Pacific region that is, and must remain, stable, free, open, and prosperous. By working more closely together, we can effectively tackle shared challenges and bolster linkages across the region for the benefit of all.

That is the basis of the proposed $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, which will expand Nepal’s electricity infrastructure and improve its road networks.

Underpinning the partnership between our two governments, of course, is the affection and goodwill our citizens have for one another. Our people-to-people ties have never been stronger.

This past year, Nepal was the South Asian country with the largest increase in students choosing to pursue their higher studies in the United States. With a 14 percent increase from the previous year, there are now over 13,000 Nepalis enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions.

The American people also have an abiding admiration for Nepal’s extraordinary cultural heritage as demonstrated by the contribution of nearly $3.5 million to preserve important Nepali landmarks through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

So tonight, on the occasion of Foreign Minister Gyawali’s official visit to Washington, let me once more welcome this new opportunity to deepen the strong and enduring relationship between our countries—and wish the Foreign Minister success during the remainder of his visit.