KATHMANDU, June 4: Nepal has proposed hosting the Fourth Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in August end or first week of September.
A cabinet meeting held on Sunday decided to propose two different dates—August 30-31 or September 6-7 – for hosting the summit of the regional body that has received renewed focus lately after South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit failed to move forward largely due to souring relations between two of its members—India and Pakistan.
According to Minister for Communications and Information Technology Gokul Banskota, who is also the government’s spokesperson, the cabinet meeting has decided to host the Summit in Nepal in the capacity of its chair. “The cabinet meeting has decided to propose hosting the BIMSTEC Summit in Nepal. The dates of the Summit have been proposed for August 30-31 and September 6-7,” said Minister Banskota.
Normally, the date of summit meetings are made public only after approval from all member states on the proposed dates. However, the government spokesperson publicized the date shortly after the cabinet meeting.
Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the proposed dates shall now be circulated among the seven member states. One of the two proposed dates shall be finalized at the convenience of all member states. There is also a possibility that new date shall be proposed if the proposed dates coincide with some major events of the member states.
Currently, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand are the member states of the BIMSTEC. BIMSTEC has 14 priority areas of cooperation, namely i) Trade and investment ii) Technology iii) Energy iv) Transportation and communication v) Tourism vi) Fisheries vii) Agriculture viii) Cultural cooperation ix) Environment and disaster management x) Public health xi) People-to-people contact xii) Poverty alleviation xiii) Counter terrorism and transnational crime xiv) Climate change.
Nepal is in favor of strengthening regional collaboration under the BIMSTEC by deepening cooperation on core areas such as connectivity, trade, energy, investment and tourism. Nepal has been making a call to make the BIMSTEC able to deliver tangible results for the prosperity of the people of the region.
Renewed Focus on BIMSTEC as SAARC falls hostage of Indo-Pak rivalry
Although Nepal as the chair of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) wanted to facilitate Pakistan hosting the SAARC Summit, this could not succeed after India showed no interest in it.
Prime Minister K P Oli during his recent visit to India had discussed about hosting the 19th Summit in Pakistan with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. A section of Indian media had then even blamed Prime Minister Oli for carrying the agenda of Pakistan, as Oli’s visit to India took shortly after Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Nepal.
Although Pakistan earlier proposed to host the SAARC Summit in November 2016, this could not take place after India along with three other SAARC nations announced to boycott the summit amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. India had then conveyed to Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region had created an environment that was not conducive to the successful holding of the summit.