BIMSTEC preparations in final stages: Gyawali

Kathmandu, August 24

Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali today said preparations for the fourth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation to be held in Kathmandu on August 30 and 31 had reached final stages.

Minister Gyawali said Nepal had taken the summit — the biggest of its kind being held in the country after the country entered an era of political stability following the implementation of the new constitution — as an important event.  “The summit is also important because questions are being raised at the concept of regionalism and multilateralism, with some of the biggest countries pulling out of some such mechanisms,” he told journalists at a media briefing held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I hope the Kathmandu summit will be remembered as a landmark event in BIMSTTEC history.”

In the Kathmandu summit — being held under the theme of ‘Towards Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable bay of Bengal Region’ — heads of states/governments of all seven member states will be present, besides foreign ministers and ministers of state.

Myanmar President Win Myint will arrive on August 28, while Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Bhutan’s Chief Justice and Chief Advisor of the Interim Government Tshering Wangchuk will land in Kathmandu on August 28.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha will arrive in the morning of August 30.

Myanmar President Myint and Sri Lankan President Sirisena are also making bilateral visits to Nepal during the summit. They will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and also meet President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. Both Sirisena and Myint will also visit the birth place of Lord Buddha in Lumbini. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also hold bilateral talks with Oli on August 31.

On August 30, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will hold a luncheon in honour of visiting heads of states/governments at Sital Niwas.

Following the luncheon, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, as the current chair of BIMSTEC, will inaugurate the summit at Hotel Soaltee, where the heads of the states/governments will deliver their respective country statements. Oli will host a dinner at Hotel Hyatt the same evening in the honour of the visiting dignitaries. In the morning of August 31, a retreat will be organised, venue for which has yet to be finalised. After the retreat, signing of documents will be held, followed by the closing ceremony. Before the summit, a senior officials’ meeting will be held on August 28 which will review the documents to be presented at the summit and recommend necessary revisions. The 16th ministerial meeting the following day will discuss the same issues more broadly.

Gyawali said the summit would be focused mainly on connectivity; poverty alleviation; trade, investment and tourism; climate change; and security challenges. The summit will also witness signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection, paving the way for trade in energy among member states.

Other areas of discussions include strengthening and making effective the BIMSTEC secretariat, establishment of BIMSTEC development fund, Buddhist circuit, setting up of regional centres, and adoption of BIMSTEC charter, among others. Gyawali said Nepal would strongly push for the adoption of a charter.