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UK and Nepal celebrate 200 years of friendship

This month marks the UK-Nepal bicentenary – two hundred years of diplomatic relations between our two countries.

The Foreign Office will host a reception to celebrate the UK-Nepal bicentenary, welcoming the Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mr Kamal Thapa, to the United Kingdom for this special occasion.

Speaking at the reception, Minister Hugo Swire said:

As the son-in-law of a former Gurkha officer, Nepal is particularly close to my heart – as it is to the hearts of many people across the United Kingdom. The Bicentenary year will not only be an excellent platform on which to look back at our rich, shared history and celebrate our close ties. It will spur us on to strengthen our partnership for the future.

We are hopeful that the National Reconstruction Authority Bill approved today in Parliament in Nepal will help to speed up reconstruction following the devastating earthquake in April.

September’s new Constitution was a significant milestone in the political process. Challenges remain, but I hope peaceful dialogue and compromise will continue – both to remove the blockages to humanitarian aid – and to agree a political position that meets the concerns of all Nepali citizens. Just as we did after the earthquake earlier this year, just as we have over the past two centuries, the UK stands ready to assist in any way we can.

International Development Minister, Desmond Swayne said:

This year has demonstrated the strength and importance of the UK’s friendship with Nepal. When the devastating earthquakes struck, we were quick to help the Nepali people in their time of need with essential support including shelter, water and blankets. Our work to prepare Nepal for such disasters through strengthening infrastructure and pre-positioning vital supplies meant schools remained standing, people who had lost their homes were reached quickly and lives were saved. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nepal through its recovery and look forward to continuing our 200-year-long partnership.

After two hundred years of friendship, our relationship today has many strands, including our vibrant people-to-people links with over 80,000 Nepali diaspora in the UK and more than 30,000 British tourists visiting Nepal each year.

Eight months on from April’s devastating earthquake, Nepal continues to face serious challenges. As Nepal’s largest bilateral donor, the UK remains fully committed to providing humanitarian assistance and to the reconstruction process. As well as working on short term relief, the Department for International Development is supporting Nepal’s longer term development including by strengthening its health service and helping people train in skills and get into jobs.

As part of his programme, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thapa met the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, and Minister of State for Asia, Hugo Swire, for bilateral talks, as well as International Development Minister Desmond Swayne.

Other bicentenary events are planned for Nepal and the UK in 2016.

Further information

In December 1815, the Treaty of Segauli established formal relations between the UK and Nepal. It was ratified in March 1816, and superseded in 1923 by a treaty of “perpetual peace and friendship”.

In March 2015, the UK and Nepal governments commemorated 200 years since the first Gurkhas were recruited into the British Army.

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