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In a remote Himalayan valley, Hillary Rodham Clinton swirled a black and gold woven scarf around her shoulders and grinned with delight at the traditional craft work.

"What you are doing is what I am trying to encourage," Mrs. Clinton told the woman artisan who had given her the scarf and who markets the work of hundreds of Nepali women.

Midway through her 12-day tour of South Asia, Mrs. Clinton arrived in this isolated mountain nation Friday to continue her diplomatic but determined push for better opportunities for women and children.

One woman told the first lady that she used to stay home and do housework, unable to read or write, until volunteers taught her to transfer her talents for painting on walls into making paintings on paper that can be sold.

Now, Mangela Thakur knows how to read, is unafraid to travel outside her village and earns her own income.

"Your story is so exciting," Mrs. Clinton told the woman, who gave her a brightly decorated painting. "This is beautiful work. I'm so glad the world can see it and I can have this to take home."

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