KATHMANDU, Aug 27: A meeting of the senior officials, including the Foreign Secretaries, of the member countries of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is taking place here in the capital on Tuesday in preparation for the regional group's 4th Summit conference.
The BIMSTEC 4th summit is taking place in Kathmandu on 30-31 August.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the member countries will arrive here till the evening today to take part in the meeting. This meeting will be the 19th meeting of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials.
Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi will host a dinner reception tonight in their welcome. On the occasion, the Foreign or External Affairs Secretaries will hold informal discussions on the agenda of the Tuesday meeting.
The meeting of the senior officials will also deliberate on the key topics of the Summit meeting, the thematic issues to be recommended as well as review the earlier achievements and make an assessment of the progress so far, Joint Spokesman at the Ministry, Ram Babu Dhakal, said.
Following the senior officials' meeting, the ministers of foreign affairs or external affairs of the member countries will hold their meeting on August 29. The meeting of the senior officials will present a report with recommendations to the ministerial meeting. The meeting of the ministers on August 29 will discuss on these recommendations.
Joint spokesman Dhakal said the meeting will hold consultations on making BIMSTEC effective and result-oriented, categorizing the areas of cooperation on priority basis, institutional reforms and consolidation, among other topics.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari will meet with the BIMSTEC leaders and also organise luncheon in their honour on August 30.
The same day (August 30), Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will organise a dinner reception accompanied by a variety cultural programme in honour of the visiting Heads of State or of Government of BIMSTEC member countries.
BIMSTEC leaders will also hold informal meetings before the meeting on August 31. A formal meeting will take place after that which will issue the BIMSTEC Kathmandu Declaration.
There are altogether 14 areas of cooperation determined by BIMSTEC. They are: trade and investment, technology, energy sector, transport and communication, tourism, energy, fisheries, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism and transnational crimes, environment and disaster management, people-to-people contact, cultural cooperation and climate change.
Taking part in the two-day summit are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Seikh Hasina, Bhutanese Chief of Interim government Lyongpo Tshering Wangchuk, Myanmar's President Win Minta, Sri Lankan President Maitripala Sirisena and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O Chale.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will chair the summit where BIMSETC's progress review of the areas of cooperation will take place and charter the plans and programmes for future.
Among the seven BIMSTEC members, Nepal and Bhutan are landlocked hence Nepal will emphasize building strong network among the rest other five countries during the summit.
The first summit of BIMSTEC was held in Thailand in 2004. Similarly, the second was held in India in 2008 and third in Myanmar in 2014. Its headquarters was established in Dhaka of Bangladesh in 2014.
Likewise, more than 15 Foreign Secretarial level meetings of BIMSTEC have been held and 18 senior officials level meetings since its establishments.
Nepal became member of BIMSTEC in 2004. BIMSTEC area constitute around 21 per cent of the total population on earth i.e. around one and a half billion.