Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali today said Nepal's diplomatic outreach had expanded significantly after establishment of diplomatic relations with a total of 168 countries.

Addressing the 73rd anniversary of Nepal Council of World Affairs in Kathmandu, he said, "Fostering economic diplomacy, promoting Nepal's export trade, enhancing foreign investments, improving technology transfer, boosting tourism industry and safeguarding the interests and well-being of our migrant workers are our main priorities. We intend to promote Nepal's soft power by utilising the country's natural beauty and cultural heritages, among others."

Minister Gyawali also appreciated the role of the Nepali diaspora in national development and building cultural connections.

"We are committed to protecting the interests of Nepali nationals abroad and utilising knowledge, expertise and capital of the NRNs.

Brain Gain Centre, created at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2018 with the objective of utilising knowledge and expertise of the Nepali diaspora in national development, has now over a thousand entries. We are in the process of further consolidating the BGC as a bridge between the Nepali diaspora and Nepal's national development endeavours," he said.

According to Minister Gyawali, Nepal remains committed to maintaining friendly relations with its neighbours and all other countries in the world at the bilateral level. Over the years, Nepal's engagements with the immediate neighbours – India and China – have increased manifold.

"We maintain close and cordial relationship with them based on goodwill, trust, mutual respect and cooperation. Nepal fulfils its commitment not to allow any interference in her territory by neighbours and expects similar spirit of cooperation from our neighbours on the matters of our concern," he reiterated.

He further said high-level engagements with India had contributed to further enriching the already intense relationship between the two neighbours characterised by robust people-to-people contacts, cultural linkages and extensive economic partnership. "We have achieved remarkable progress in some landmark connectivity projects, such as, the Motihari-Amlekhgunj Petroleum Pipeline, the first cross border pipeline in the region, operationalisation of Integrated Check Post in Birjung and Biratnagar, and completion of the Jaynagar-Kurtha section of railway," Gyawali informed.

"Similarly, Nepal and China enjoy close and cordial relationship, which is based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence.

Appreciation of each other's aspirations as well as respect for each other's concerns and sensitivities has been the hallmark of our relationship. Nepal is fully committed to one-China policy. Nepal-China relations have witnessed substantive growth with the exchange of high-level visits and enhanced level of economic partnership," he added.

He underscored that Nepal maintained close and cooperative relationship with development partners as well as destination countries of Nepali migrant workers beyond its neighbourhood.

Minister Gyawali claimed that Nepal was on the right track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. "The pandemic has slowed down the pace of progress. It has put huge stress on our health infrastructure, crippled the tourism sector and affected inflow of remittances. In this backdrop of economic vulnerabilities, we are resolutely focused on warding off its negative impact in the course of realising the national aspiration of 'Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali' as envisioned by the country," he said.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 4, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.