As a French Ambassador to Nepal, it gives me immense pleasure and an honour to be here amongst you today for this important occasion.
2019 and 2020 are very important years in the history of Nepal-France relationship. In 2019 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Nepal-France diplomatic relations and in 2020, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Annapurna ascent by the French expedition team led by Maurice Herzog.
In June 2019, Prime Minister KP Sharma OLI had visited France in 2019 and he was in Chamonix, the place of which Herzog was a Mayor and the place which has a deep connection with Nepal especially in the domain of mountaineering.
I find myself fortunate that 70 years after that famous Annapurna ascent, I am here today to be part of this inauguration where we inaugurated some pictures from that very important day in the history of the development of tourism in Nepal: 3 June 1950. This was the day when men triumphed over Annapurna and the French expedition team led by Maurice Herzog was able to successfully summit the 8000-metre peak for the first time.
As you can imagine this was not an easy feat and it required months and months of preparation and a very careful planning. Although this was a French expedition with Herzog and Louis Lachenal being the first to climb Annapurna, I would like to call it a Franco-Nepali expedition because without the invaluable help, support and local knowledge of the Nepali Sherpas, this mission would not have been successful and the outcome could have been devastating. Hence, I take this opportunity to thank and pay homage to Ang Tharkey and other Sherpas who were a vital part of the expedition team.
Actually we had planned this inauguration to coincide with the celebration of 70th anniversary of the ascent in June, but it was not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The spouse of late Mr. Herzog was also supposed to be here with us but as you can imaging, it was not possible. Nevertheless, I do have a small message from her which I am going to read:
In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank the Honourable Minister for their time and for being here today. I would also like to thank the Nepal Mountaineering Association and the International Mountain Museum for being a partner in this project and for providing a space for the exhibition which would benefit the Nepali and foreign visitors coming to this museum as I’m sure that these photographs and the article would make their visit more fruitful.
François-Xavier Léger is an Ambassador of France to Nepal. Excerpts of his statement delivered at the program.