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‘Kathmandu summit will offer new direction to BIMSTEC’

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Aug 25, 2018-

The fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Kathmandu will make a new departure in its history by bringing some changes in its 21-year-old history, according to Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali. 

As the final preparations of the summit are about to be completed, he said the officials from the member states have mostly agreed on the outcome document, the Kathmandu Declaration, that is expected to give new directions to the regional grouping that brings countries together from East and South Asia.

“This summit will be important to direct the future of the BIMSTEC. At a time when questions are been raised about the future of the multilateralism, we hope that this summit in Kathmandu would  prove to be an important one in the history of BIMSTEC,” Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told a press conference on Friday.

Noting that the Kathmandu summit will make some important strides by adopting the first charter in its two decade-long history, the foreign minister said that Nepal was pushing for BIMSTEC Charter to which all member states have agreed.

The charter will enable the member states to understand the objective of the regional organisation, rules of the engagements, and  areas of cooperation, among others.

Another important departure that the upcoming summit is making, is cutting down the number of priority sectors. 

“The scope of 14 areas of cooperation identified by BIMSTEC will be turned into clusters, which will not go beyond six,” Minister Gyawali said.

At present, BIMSTEC has identified trade, investment, transportation and communications, energy, tourism, agriculture, anti-terrorism, poverty eradication, public health, environment and natural disasters as areas of cooperation.

“From Kathmandu Summit, we will develop clusters, namely connectivity, poverty alleviation, trade, investment and tourism, climate change and security. We will devise the task to the respected member states for better results,” the minister added.

Besides, the summit is also set to adopt a new proposal on strengthening the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka, and will agree on opening up new regional centres focusing on objectives it has been pursuing. Member states are also in talks to create separate development fund to carry out various kinds of research and other activities.

During the summit, member states will sign an agreement on  BIMSTEC Grid Connectivity, opening and developing the Buddhist Circuit, BIMSTEC tourism conclave, among others.

All necessary preparations related to the summit are near completion, according to Minister Gyawali.

Nepal is deploying over 30,000 security personnel for the security of the summit. The chief justice of Bhutan, who heads the Interim Election Government in Bhutan, is leading the country’s delegation, while the delegations from India, Bangladesh and Thailand will be headed by their respective prime ministers. The parties from Sri Lanka and Myanmar will be led by their presidents.

 

 

The heads of the state or government from the member states are set to arrive in Kathmandu between August 26- 30.

 

 

President Bidya Devi Bhandari is scheduled to hold a meeting with the leaders from the BIMSTEC member countries on August 30.

 

 

She will also host a lunch reception on the same day. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will host a dinner for the visiting BIMSTEC guests on the evening of August 30, according to Minister Gyawali.

 

 

On the opening day,  Prime Minister Oli, as the BIMSTEC chair, will preside over the summit. The session will review the progresses achieved by the BIMSTEC in the areas of mutual cooperation and set future course of actions.

Issues relating to connecting the nations by power transmission grids and optical fibres through land, water and air routes will also figure as the top priorities of the summit.

Prior to the main summit, preliminary meeting of the secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of External Affairs of the member nations is set to take place on Tuesday. The ministerial level meeting of the BIMSTEC member nations will take place on Wednesday.

Published: 25-08-2018 08:03

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