KATHMANDU, Aug 28: The 19th Session of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) has begun in the central capital.
The meeting is attended by secretaries at the ministries of foreign/external affairs will focus on the discussions about trade and investment; transport and communications; technology; counter-terrorism and transnational crime; agriculture, poverty alleviation and public health, as stated by secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shanker Das Bairagi told RSS.
Nepal serves as the current chair of the sub regional body of seven countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal which was formed in June 1997 and is hosting the fourth Summit on August 30 and 31.
The Nepali delegation to the SOM held on the eve of the Summit is headed by foreign secretary Bairagi. According to the secretary, the meeting will hold detailed discussions on the draft of the Kathmandu Declaration to be issued by the Summit at the end. Besides, the meeting will go through serious discussions about reports presented by other BIMSTEC mechanisms.
The meeting is learnt to have been making a review of progresses so far on the 14 areas of priorities determined by the BIMSTEC. Such areas are trade and investment; transport and communications; energy; tourism; agriculture; counter terrorism and transnational crime; poverty alleviation; public health; environment and natural disasters and climate change, among others.
Secretary Bairagi told Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) that intense discussion was underway being focused on various issues including preparation for the Fourth Summit, contents of Kathmandu declaration, giving final shape to the draft and making the Summit a success.
Review of a special meeting of senior officials of BIMSTEC-member countries held in Kathmandu on August 11, reports of other meetings held so far after the 15th ministerial meeting would be carried out as well as report of taskforce related to Customs cooperation, report of second meeting of BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Taskforce held in Bangkok last year, report of first meeting related to BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement held in New Delhi and report of the first meeting of taskforce related to BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement would be presented in the meeting.
As per the agenda of the meeting, discussion would be held regarding second meeting of national security chiefs held at Dhaka of Bangladesh in March, report on counter-terrorism of BIMSTEC Joint Taskforce and eighth meeting of International Crime and fourth report of expert group on technology transfer.
Similarly, report of first meeting of expert group related to agriculture assistance held in Thailand, report of first meeting related to poverty alleviation held in Kathmandu last year and report of third meeting of foreign ministers and senior office-bearers of member states on poverty alleviation held in Colombo last December would be presented in the meeting.
Deliberations will also be held in the meeting regarding the taskforce on traditional medicines, the report of the special meeting of the joint taskforce related to establishing the permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC in Dhaka, the budget for the BIMSTEC Secretariat, the process of purchasing vehicles for the secretariat and preparations for the 4th BIMSTEC Summit.
The meeting is attended by foreign secretary Mohammed Shahidul Haque from Bangladesh; foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale from India; Deputy Director General from Myanmar's Union Ministry of International Cooperation, Win Zeyar Tun; Sri Lankan additional secretary (economic affairs and trade) Ravinatha P Aryasinha; Foreign Secretary Sonam Tshong of Bhutan and permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand, Mrs Busaya Mathelin.
Opening the event, Secretary Bairagi said economic growth, prosperity and the well being of the people of BIMSTEC area remained on top of BIMSTEC agenda, underlining the need of moving ahead by overcoming the barriers of trade and integration in the region.
BIMSTEC general secretary Shahidul Haque insisted on the need of promotion of trade, investment, tourism, electricity transmission line and establishment of bilateral relations to transform the organization into an effective and efficient body.