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BIMSTEC to cut priority areas from 14 to five

All members of BIMSTEC will be participating in the group’s fourth summit in Kathamandu on August 30-31.

world Updated: Aug 24, 2018 07:34 IST
Anil Giri
Anil Giri
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will chair the upcoming BIMSTEC Summit, which will review progress in areas of cooperation and provide guidance for future work, the country’s foreign ministry said.(AP File Photo)

As Nepal prepares to host the BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu during August 30-31, one of the focus areas of the meeting will be cutting the numbers of areas of cooperation from 14 to five, officials said on Thursday.

This was also communicated by foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali to some former diplomats during a consultation. According to Gyawali, the summit will set connectivity, poverty alleviation, trade and investment, climate change and energy as its core priority areas for the regional grouping.

The proliferation of commitments and increase in areas of cooperation did not yield tangible results in the past two decades, and the seven members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) have agreed to trim the number of priority areas to produce concrete results.

Since its inception in 1997, BIMSTEC, which aims to bridge East and South Asia, has listed trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people-to-people contacts and climate change as areas of cooperation.

Apart from cutting down the priority areas, the member states will focus on strengthening the BIMSTEC secretariat in Dhaka, where a revolving fund will be set up to focus on research on expanding cooperation, officials said.

All members of BIMSTEC have confirmed their participation in the fourth summit and the meetings preceding it, a statement from foreign ministry said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the summit and this will be his fourth visit to Kathmandu since he assumed office in 2014. Some bilateral memorandums of understanding and agreements are expected to be signed between Nepal and India on the sidelines of the summit.

Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will inaugurate the summit and meet leaders of the BIMSTEC states and host a luncheon in their honour on August 20.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will chair the summit, which will review progress in areas of cooperation and provide guidance for future work, the foreign ministry said. The leaders will witness the signing of a legal instrument of BIMSTEC and consider the draft Kathmandu Declaration of the summit on August 31.

Prior to the Summit, a senior officials’ meeting and a ministerial meeting will be held in Kathmandu during August 28-29..

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 07:34 IST