4th BIM­STEC Sum­mit con­cludes

People's Review - - COMMENTARY -

Kath­mandu, 31 Au­gust: The 4th BIM­STEC Sum­mit has re­cently been con­cluded along with Kath­mandu Dec­la­ra­tion. In to­day’s ses­sion, BIM­STEC chair­man KP Sharma Oli handed over chair­man­ship to the Sri Lankan Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena. Xin­hua re­ports: KATH­MANDU, Aug. 30: The fourth sum­mit of the Bay of Ben­gal Ini­tia­tive for Multi-Sec­toral Tech­ni­cal and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (BIM­STEC) kicked off here on Thurs­day, with fo­cus on pro­mot­ing re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity, en­ergy, free trade and com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism un­der the frame­work of the BIM­STEC. Nepali Prime Min­is­ter K.P. Sharma Oli in­au­gu­rated the two-day sum­mit amid a spe­cial func­tion held at Ho­tel Soal­teeCrowne Plaza in the cap­i­tal with the pres­ence of dig­ni­taries from the BIM­STEC mem­ber states, se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cials of the Nepali govern­ment and diplo­mats, among oth­ers. Nepal is the ro­tat­ing chair of the BIM­STEC, a re­gional group which com­prises Bangladesh, In­dia, Myan­mar, Sri Lanka, Thai­land, Bhutan and Nepal. BIM­STEC re­gion ac­counts for 22 per­cent of the global pop­u­la­tion, and has a com­bined gross do­mes­tic prod­uct of USD 2.8 tril­lion. Of the seven BIM­STEC mem­bers, In­dia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are from the South Asian re­gion and Thai­land and Myan­mar are from the Southeast Asian re­gion. The sum­mit is be­ing held un­der the theme of "To­wards a peace­ful, pros­per­ous and sus­tain­able Bay of Ben­gal re­gion" as an at­tempt to deepen eco­nomic, strate­gic, and po­lit­i­cal ties be­tween coun­tries of South Asia and South East Asia. De­liv­er­ing his open­ing re­marks, the Nepali prime min­is­ter stressed on the im­por­tance of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion un­der the frame­work of BIM­STEC, say­ing that the world is fac­ing sim­mer­ing un­cer­tain­ties in mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism. "Nepal stands for mean­ing­ful re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. We be­lieve that SAARC (South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion) and BIM­STEC do not sub­sti­tute but com­ple­ment each other. We are also com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing the sub-re­gional co­op­er­a­tion un­der the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, In­dia and Nepal)," he said while ex­press­ing Nepal's com­mit­ment to re­gion­al­ism and mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism. "We must col­lec­tively make a re­solve to pre­serve and main­tain mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism as the most le­git­i­mate process for ad­dress­ing con­tem­po­rary chal­lenges of global scale. All States- big­ger or smaller- must ful­fill their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in good faith and en­sure that the prin­ci­ples of fair­ness and jus­tice are up­held," the prime min­is­ter said while chair­ing the in­au­gu­ral ses­sion. Giv­ing em­pha­sis on the deeper eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion in the Bay of Ben­gal re­gion, Prime Min­is­ter Oli said that bet­ter phys­i­cal con­nec­tiv­ity, in­creased trade, and en­hanced peo­ple-to-peo­ple contacts will be in­stru­men­tal to over­come the ex­ist­ing chal­lenges in­clud­ing poverty, un­der­de­vel­op­ment, and back­ward­ness among oth­ers. "Con­nec­tiv­ity is a key en­abler for ro­bust re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. It is the very foun­da­tion, in which the ed­i­fice of eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion can stand up­right," he said adding that the BIM­STEC mem­ber states should in­ten­sify in­vest­ment in the cross-re­gional trans­port net­works such as con­nec­tiv­ity of roads, rail­ways, air­ways, wa­ter­ways to un­lock their full po­ten­tial." The lead­ers from the BIM­STEC mem­ber states vowed to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion un­der the frame­work of the BIM­STEC in wide-rang­ing ar­eas in­clud­ing rail­road con­nec­tiv­ity, com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and transna­tional crimes, free trade, rail­road con­nec­tiv­ity, agri­cul­ture, peo­ple-to-peo­ple contacts and tourism among oth­ers. Dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony, lead­ers and of­fi­cials from other mem­ber coun­tries made the de­lib­er­a­tion on be­half of their re­spec­tive coun­tries, putting spe­cial fo­cus on fur­ther deep­en­ing re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion un­der the frame­work of the BIM­STEC. The BIM­STEC lead­ers ex­pressed com­mit­ment to de­feat­ing ter­ror­ism in all its forms and man­i­fes­ta­tions while re­it­er­at­ing to com­bat all other transna­tional or­ga­nized crimes through an en­hanced level of co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­nated ef­forts. All the BIM­STEC lead­ers high­lighted that peace and sta­bil­ity is es­sen­tial for sus­tained eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment in the Bay of Ben­gal re­gion. Ahead of the in­au­gu­ral ses­sion of the fourth BIM­STEC sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Bid­hya Devi Bhan­dari hosted a lun­cheon in honor of the vis­it­ing top for­eign dig­ni­taries, on Thurs­day after­noon. On Fri­day, the BIM­STEC lead­ers will be at­tend­ing a re­treat ses­sion in Kath­mandu to be fol­lowed by a con­clud­ing ses­sion. At the end of the sum­mit on Fri­day, the BIM­STEC mem­ber states will is­sue a Kath­mandu Dec­la­ra­tion con­tain­ing the fu­ture di­rec­tion of the re­gional group­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Nepali for­eign min­istry. The BIM­STEC mem­ber coun­tries are ex­pected to an­nounce a con­nec­tiv­ity mas­ter plan and set up a BIM­STEC De­vel­op­ment Fund at the end of the sum­mit. BIM­STEC mem­ber states will sign a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing on es­tab­lish­ing the elec­tric­ity grid in­ter­con­nec­tion dur­ing the sum­mit on Fri­day.

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