India to host BIMSTEC summit

Himalayan News Service

Dhaka, June 2:

India will host the next summit of BIMSTEC countries in New Delhi in the second half of 2006.

Senior officials of the seven Bay of Bengal rim countries, including India, which met here on Wednesday, agreed after a daylong session to work together in areas like setting up a trans-Asian railway, trade, tourism and disaster management. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Technical and Multi-Sectoral Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) meeting agreed that a free-trade area framework agreement would come into effect in July 2006 following negotiations by December. A proposal for issuance of special visa and travel cards for businessmen of BIMSTEC member countries was also mooted at the meeting, the ninth of its kind, at the foreign secretary level. Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal ar members of the group. “In BIMSTEC, our purpose is to achieve better economic performance, enhance our competitive edge in the world market and sustain economic development,” Bangladesh foreign minister M Morshed Khan told the session. Khan said that some progress has been made in combating terrorism and trans-national crimes. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin said there had been extensive exchange of views among the member states on how to increase cooperation in these areas.