Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal

December 7, 1983

The President. Nancy and I welcome you to the White House and the United States of America.

It's a particular pleasure to have King Birendra back in our country for the first time since his student days. We hope that you will again feel at home and among friends here, not only at the White House, which you visited as Crown Prince, but throughout our country. And, Queen Aishwarya, this is your first visit to the United States, and we hope that our good will and hospitality will encourage you to return again.

The United States and Nepal are on opposite sides of the globe. We face different challenges, and our cultures symbolize the diversity with which mankind views the world. Yet our ties have grown stronger since our countries established relations in 1947. The vast distance which separates us is bridged with a miracle of modern communications and transportation. Our distinct cultures are linked in our peoples' common commitment to peace and human progress.

In Nepal, Your Majesty, you've set forth to win the battle against illiteracy, disease, hunger, and poverty. The challenges you face on the frontier of modernization are formidable. The very topography which makes Nepal one of Earth's most beautiful sites makes your task more difficult by limiting the amount of arable land and complicating communications. Although improved health and nutrition in your country has saved lives, it has also increased the pressures on finite resources. Education and information have expanded the horizons of your citizens, but have also raised their expectations.

Your development program, which began some 30 years ago, exemplifies the wise and progressive leadership provided by your family. From your grandfather's decision to seek modernization down to the present day, your people have been blessed by something money cannot buy: wise leadership. This, coupled with your country's hard-working people, tremendous hydroelectric potential, and access to substantial technical and financial support from the international community, all represent opportunities for dramatic progress.

America is proud that for a third of a century we've played a part in your development efforts. The record reflects the close partnership of our governments and peoples. We plan to continue American investment in Nepal's economic development during the next 5 years, including the funding of new agricultural research and training projects, areas which Your Majesty has identified as vital to improving the well-being of your people.

The Peace Corps will also continue its important work in Nepal. More than 2,000 volunteers have served in your country, one of our largest Peace Corps posts. The 180 volunteers presently there are carrying on their fine tradition of competence and compassion.

Your Majesty, you, your father, and your grandfather before you have been the architects of Nepal's efforts to build a better future. In the political arena your reforms are enlisting public participation in identifying national goals, thus guaranteeing that your people have a stake in their future. The United States respects these and other initiatives Your Majesty is making to develop popular institutions consistent with the spirit of the Nepalese people. There is every reason to be confident that your goals of economic progress, political stability, and national security will be reached. America is happy to offer encouragement and support in these noble efforts.

Your Majesty's moral leadership in condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is much appreciated here. We should not forget the heroism of the Afghan people in their fight for the freedom and independence of their country.

We're also grateful for the courage your nation has shown in the cause of peace. Nepal has been willing to do more than just cast a ballot at the United Nations. It has volunteered its military personnel to serve in some of the world's most troubled areas, giving depth and meaning to Nepal's commitment to peace. The world needs more nations like Nepal which are willing to help shoulder the burden of preserving peace as well as advocating it in world forums.

Once again, Your Majesties, welcome to America. We look forward to getting to know you better as a means of enriching the deep friendship which has always characterized our relations.

The King. Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Reagan, for this welcome ceremony and for the warmth with which my wife and I, along with the members of my entourage, have been received here. I also wish to convey to you -- and through you, to the Government and people of the United States -- greetings and good wishes of the Government and people of Nepal.

For me it is also a nostalgic moment. I recall with fondness the time I had stood by my august father, late King Mahendra, on a similar occasion, in a similar setting here in 1967.

I do not feel a complete stranger to this land. Indeed, I come to you in the spirit of a friend who has had the benefit of studying in one of your leading institutions of learning. Inspired as Nepal and the United States are by the common goals of striving for freedom and dignity of man, it is also a fulfilling experience for me to be back here again.

Mr. President, few things in the history of man have been as eventful as the discovery of this new-found land. It gave birth to a republic known not only for its inspiring ideals but also for the most epoch-making feats of scientific endeavor. Viewed from this angle, America stands on the very forefront of modern history. Indeed, what the United States represents is a harmonious amalgam of high human and material achievements rarely surpassed elsewhere in the world. As a nation that has brought about such profound changes, it is only natural to look up to this country in joining hands with the rest of the world to herald a new age of peace, understanding, friendship, and prosperity for all.

Committed as we are in Nepal to these ideals, we hold you, Mr. President, in high esteem and wish to see the United States as a bulwark of peace and stability, cherishing the belief that all nations of the world -- whether big or small, rich or poor, developed or developing -- must have a place under the Sun.

It is in this spirit that I look forward to exchange views with you, Mr. President, on matters of mutual interest. I also hope to meet other leaders and seek the opportunity to renew my acquaintances with friends that I have known. I'm confident that our visit to this country will be fruitful as well as memorable.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, where King Birendra was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors.

Following the ceremony, the President and the King met in the Oval Office. They were then joined by U.S. and Nepalese officials for further discussions.