Kathmandu summit to strengthen BIMSTEC foundation: MEA

Kathmandu: Outcome of the deliberations in Kathmandu will set the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) on a firm institutional foundation with a focused and reoriented direction for the future said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Thursday.

“We think that the Summit in Kathmandu will be a landmark summit in terms of BIMSTEC. We expect that the outcome of the deliberations in Kathmandu will set the BIMSTEC on a firm institutional foundation with a focused and reoriented direction for the future,” said Gokhale while addressing a presser on the sidelines of BIMSTEC here.

“We are going to do this by drafting a charter for BIMSTEC. It is so far an organisation that does not have a charter and therefore the decision that the leaders will take to draft a charter is important and based on that charter the rules of procedures will also be defined for BIMSTEC mechanism”, he added.

While talking about the significance of the 4th BIMSTEC summit, Gokhale underscored, “From our perspective, BIMSTEC fits in very well with the neighbourhood first policy that Prime Minister has repeatedly emphasized upon. Five of BIMSTEC members come from South Asia and the other two are from South East Asia. It is also part of our priority that Government of India (GOI) has given to the development of North Eastern Region.”

Briefing about the other key decisions that can be expected from 4th BIMSTEC summit, MEA said, “The leaders are expecting to endorse the decision of ministerial meetings and official meetings to also establish a permanent working committee which gives a direction to BIMSTEC between the summits. We hope to strengthen the secretariat in Dhaka and also to rationalize the areas for cooperation. Another important expected outcome is to institutionalize the meeting between the home ministers of BIMSTEC, this will be in addition to the ongoing meeting between the National Security Advisors.”

He also elaborated further on the blue economy and grid interconnection initiatives mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his plenary address.

“A number of working groups on areas of common interest such as the blue economy, disaster management, climate change, energy and digital economy. One memorandum of understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed on grid interconnection, which will permit cross-border trading and transmission of power”, he said.

Further elaborating about the mutual cooperation initiatives between BIMSTEC members, he said, “We also expect very soon to have ratification on mutual legal assistance in legal matters and a convention on cooperation in combating terrorism, drug trafficking and trans-national crime. We have also explored the possibility of having a development fund based on the voluntary contribution which will be helped for developmental activities in the region.”

Foreign Secretary also apprised about different initiatives announced during Prime Minister’s plenary session address.

The BIMSTEC is an international organisation consisting of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia, namely Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal. The main objective of the BIMSTEC is technical and economic cooperation among South Asian and Southeast Asian countries around the Bay of Bengal.