BIMSTEC Summit in Nepal: Narendra Modi to attend two-day meet, will inaugurate dharmashala at Pashupatinath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) BIMSTEC Summit in Nepal on 30-31 August. It is the fourth BIMSTEC Summit whose theme is 'Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region'.

Modi said on Wednesday that his participation in the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu signals India's highest priority to its neighbourhood and a strong commitment to continue deepening ties with the "extended neighbourhood" in South-East Asia. In a statement before leaving for Nepal, Modi said he will interact with the leaders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand on the margins of the summit. "I also look forward to meeting Prime Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli and reviewing the progress we have made in our bilateral ties since my last visit to Nepal in May 2018," he said. Modi said he and Oli will inaugurate the Nepal Bharat Maitri Dharmashala at the Pashupatinath temple complex. "My participation in the summit symbolises India's highest priority to our neighbourhood and our strong commitment to continue deepening our relationship with the extended neighbourhood in South-East Asia," he said.

Nepal's prime minister KP Sharma Oli with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Reuters

Nepal's prime minister KP Sharma Oli with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Reuters

He said he will interact with all the leaders of BIMSTEC "to further enrich our regional cooperation, enhance our trade ties and advance our collective efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous Bay of Bengal region". The Summit theme, the PM said,will enable the member-countries to shape a collective response to their common aspirations and challenges. "I am confident that the 4th BISMTEC summit will further consolidate the progress made thus far under BIMSTEC, and will chart the course for building a peaceful and prosperous Bay of Bengal Region," Modi said in his statement.

Meanwhile, Nepal prime minister KP Sharma Oli said that the upcoming summit would be helpful in achieving sustainable development through poverty alleviation, facing climate change challenges and expanding road connectivity among member states. "The Summit will be very much fruitful in facing challenges posed by global warming, achieve sustainable development goals, and expanding connectivity to ease movement among the people of BIMSTEC-member states and enhance cooperation," Oli told the Parliament. "Economic prosperity of the people of this region, expansion of road network and construction of Buddhist Circuit will mainly figure during the summit," he said while briefing the lawmakers about the upcoming summit.

The BIMSTEC  is a regional grouping comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. The first BIMSTEC summit was held in Thailand in 1997, second in 2008 in India and third in 2014 in Myanmar. Nepal has assumed the chairmanship of BIMSTEC since 2014. The grouping accounts for 22 percent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of $2.8 trillion.

Though BIMSTEC has 14 priority sectors, the summit has integrated two more priority sectors - Blue Economy and Mountain Economy, Oli said. "BIMSTEC should not be a mere group of nations, rather it should serve as an effective organisation for enhancing regional cooperation and prosperity," he said.

The foreign secretaries of the BIMSTEC member states on Wednesday reviewed the progress achieved so far in the areas of cooperation and provided guidance to the future works of the regional grouping. During the 19th Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) of the BIMSTEC, the foreign secretaries discussed as to how cooperation between the member states could be made more effective and business-like, Nepal Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal said. He said the officials considered a number of reports of various mechanisms related to customs cooperation, connectivity, technology, counter terrorism and transnational crimes, agriculture, poverty alleviation and public health. Several measures, including exploring the possibility of establishing BIMSTEC development fund, rationalisation of areas of cooperation and identification of core prioritised areas, were deliberated in the meeting, Paudyal said.

The meeting also recommended for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the BIMSTEC grid interconnections, which is expected to further cooperation in energy sector among the member states, he said. The MoU will be signed during the two-day summit.

Meanwhile, India emphasised its "sincere and abiding" commitment to work with the BIMSTEC member states to make the region safer, stronger and prosperous, through Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh's address at the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting in Kathmandu. Singh, who led the Indian delegation during the meeting, said New Delhi accords utmost priority to BIMSTEC as it fulfils India's foreign policy priority of "Neighbourhood First" and "Act East".

With completion of 21 years, BIMSTEC is at a critical juncture and in that regard, Singh reiterated India's sincere and abiding commitment to work with all BIMSTEC member states for a safe, strong and prosperous Bay of Bengal region.

The BIMSTEC ministerial meeting was inaugurated by Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali who also chaired the meet. Gyawali said peace and stability is crucial for development of the region and it is not free from the menace of terrorism and other transnational organised crimes. He underlined the need for working together to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and combat other transnational crimes. He said the recent global economic outlook is bright with emerging Asia having strong growth prospects, and BIMSTEC nations individually remain at the forefront of the economic dynamism, adding that collective regional economic framework certainly enables BIMSTEC to perform better on the economic front. The meeting saw the presentation of reports by the Secretary General of BIMSTEC and reports of the Special and Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM).

Apart from Singh, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Union Minister of International Cooperation of Myanmar Kyaw Tin, Sri Lankan State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake, Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, and Bhutanese Foreign Secretary Sonam Tshong lead the delegations from their respective countries in the meeting.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 30, 2018 08:12:45 IST

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