Nepal's relations with the United States were cordial. Diplomatic relations at the legation level were established in 1947. Commercial relations were conducted according to the mostfavored -nation status. In August 1951, the two governments agreed to raise the status of their respective diplomatic representations to the rank of ambassador. It was not until August 1959, however, that each country established a resident embassy in each other's capital. The first agreement for United States economic assistance was signed in January 1951. By 1990 the United States commitment totaled approximately US$475 million.
In the late 1980s, United States economic assistance channeled through the Agency for International Development averaged US$15 million annually. The United States also contributed to Nepal's development through various multilateral institutions, businesses, and private voluntary organizations such as CARE, Save the Children Federation, United Mission to Nepal, Seventh Day Adventists, the Coca-Cola Corporation, and Morrison Knudsen Corporation. Much of Washington's economic assistance has been in the fields of health and family planning, environmental protection, and rural development. Projects have included geological surveys, road construction, agricultural development, and educational programs. The Peace Corps began operating in 1962 in Nepal, and in 1991 it was the only such program still operational in South Asia. The Peace Corps concentrated on agricultural, health, education, and rural development programs.
United States policy toward Nepal supported three objectives-- peace and stability in South Asia, Nepal's independence and territorial integrity, and selected programs of economic and technical assistance to assist development. At the beginning of the Cold War, the United States also had a significant strategic interest in the country because Nepal was an outpost and a portal into China.
Although Kathmandu's primary interest in relations with Washington was for economic and technical assistance, Nepal also sought global support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. While on a state visit to the United States in December 1983, King Birendra received President Ronald Reagan's endorsement of Nepal as a zone of peace.
During Nepal's prodemocracy movement, the United States Department of State voiced concern at the violent turn of events in February 1990 and urged the government to start a dialogue with the democratic forces in order to stop violence and repression. Congressman Stephen Solarz, Chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and his colleagues twice visited Nepal and met with the king and a wide range of political leaders undoubtedly to discuss events relating to the prodemocracy movement. The United Statesbased Asia Watch human rights monitoring group published a detailed account of torture, repression, and inhumane treatment meted out to the detainees.
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