India today emphasised its “sincere and abiding” commitment to work with the BIMSTEC member states to make the region safer, stronger and prosperous, ahead of a summit of the regional bloc on Aug 30.
This was stated by Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh in his address at the 16th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting here in the Nepalese capital.
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 Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional grouping comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
“BIMSTEC bringing the region together! In his address at the 16th Ministerial meeting, MoS @Gen_VKSingh emphasised on India’s sincere and abiding commitment to work with BIMSTEC Member States to make the region safer, stronger and prosperous,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
The two-day BIMSTEC summit begins on Thursday in Kathmandu.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be among the leaders who will attend the fourth BIMSTEC Summit whose theme is ‘Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region’.
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 is expected to see the presentation of reports by the Secretary General of BIMSTEC and reports of the Special and Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM).
The meeting will also discuss preparations for the summit, and finalise the BIMSTEC Convention/MoU ready to be signed as well as the draft of the Kathmandu Declaration of the summit.
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 are leading the delegations from their respective countries in the meeting.
On Wednesday, foreign secretaries of BIMSTEC member states 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 BIMSTEC, the foreign secretaries discussed as to how cooperation between the member states could be made more effective and business-like.
The grouping accounts for 22 per cent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.8 trillion.
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.