V. K. Singh emphasizes sincere commitment for safer, stronger BIMSTEC

30 Aug 2018

Ahead of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit beginning in Kathmandu on Thursday, Union Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh at the  BIMSTEC ministerial meeting has emphasized India’s "sincere and abiding" commitment to work with the BIMSTEC member states to make the region safer, stronger and prosperous.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday to attend the summit. Modi has said his participation in the summit in Kathmandu signalled 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 for the two-day summit, Modi said on Wednesday he would interact with the leaders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand on the margins of the summit whose theme is 'Towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal region'.
Gen Singh said New Delhi accorded utmost priority to BIMSTEC as it fulfilled India's foreign policy priority of "Neighbourhood First" and "Act East."  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.
Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said that the BIMSTEC Summit, hosted by Nepal, 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," Prime Minister Oli told the Parliament earlier this week.
"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.
Though BIMSTEC has 14 priority sectors, this summit has integrated two more priority sectors - Blue Economy and Mountain Economy, he said.
"BIMSTEC should not be a mere group of nations, rather it should serve as an effective organisation for enhancing regional cooperation and prosperity," Prime Minister Oli said.
He also asserted that Nepal, as a member state of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), wants the next SAARC summit to be held at the earliest.
The 2016 SAARC Summit was to be held in Islamabad but after a major terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to "prevailing circumstances" and stepped up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate.