KATHMANDU, Aug 9: Foreign ministers from seven Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member states are arriving in Kathmandu on Thursday to take part in the 15th ministerial meeting of the sub-regional body.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Bhutanese Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji are scheduled to land in Kathmandu on Thursday.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs from Myanmar U Kyaaw Tin and State Miniter for Foreign Affairs from Thailand Virasakdi Futrakul will also arrive in Kathmandu to take part in the Ministerial Meeting being inaugurated by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in the evening. The inaugural function of the Ministerial Meeting will be followed by a day-long BIMSTEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM).
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara is scheduled to host dinner for the visiting dignitaries after the conclusion of inaugural session of BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting.
The working session of the BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting on Friday will consider adoption of the Reports of the 17th and 18th Session of BIMSTEC SOM meetings held in Kathmandu. The leader are scheduled to discuss on the progress on the outcome of the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat held in Goa, India in October, 2016 and the progress and achievements made in the 17th areas of cooperation identified by BIMSTEC.
Officials said the ministerial meeting is also expected to discuss the appointment of next BIMSTEC Secretary General as the term of the current secretary general Sumith Nakandala is expiring soon.
The ministerial meeting holds significance as this will set the date for holding fourth BIMSTEC Summit. In the capacity of the current chair of the sub-regional body, Nepal had proposed to host the fourth BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu in October or November during the 17th session of BIMSTEC SOM.
BIMSTEC has set various 14 priority sectors for cooperation including trade and investment, transport and communications, energy, tourism, agriculture, counter-terrorism, poverty alleviation, public health, environment and natural disaster and climate change. The ministerial meeting is expected to finalize various key agreements on priority areas including the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection.
The 17th SOM in Kathmandu earlier this year had taken various important decisions to revitalize BIMSTEC process as outlined in the Outcome Document of the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat held in Goa, India in 2016, and its 16-point Agenda of Action. The SOM had tasked the Eminent Persons Groups (EPG) to work out the BIMSTEC vision -- a roadmap for the Future Directions of BIMSTEC in line with the UN Agenda 2030.