Nepal and the Middle East Nonalignment and Economic Interests

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Michael B. Bishku


Nepal is a poor, nonaligned, landlocked country surrounded by India and China that has had good relations with both Israel and the Arab states due in large part to a foreign policy conducted on the basis of Panchasheel, composed of five principles: (1) mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, (2) noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, (3) respect for mutual equality, (4) nonaggression and peaceful settlements of disputes, and (5) cooperation for mutual benefit. This outlook has also motivated Nepal’s participation in many United Nations peacekeeping operations. Originally the object of a rivalry between Egypt and Israel, Nepal has attracted the attention of a number of other Middle Eastern states, particularly those in the Arab Gulf region, as witnessed by increasing diplomatic interactions and transportation connections with Nepal and/or its officials especially in recent years, while Nepalis provide much-needed labor for many of those same countries. Despite numbers of cases of worker abuse in the Middle East, Nepali laborers there provide remittances essential for families dealing with difficult living conditions in Nepal as well as a source of foreign revenue for that country.

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