Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali today led the Nepali delegation to the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held online.

Addressing the meeting, he stated that fighting poverty and hunger and ensuring decent jobs and sustainable sources of livelihood for Nepali people stood as daunting as ever. He said that only a dynamic and resilient BIMSTEC could catalyse growth, spur innovation and propel development and prosperity taking into account of the special needs of LDCs and LLDCs and stressed the need to focus on such core areas as connectivity, energy, trade, investment, tourism, and agriculture.

Stating that stronger political will and commitment of member states was essential for advancing the regional body, Minister Gyawali underscored the need to chart a course that delivers tangible results on the ground and bring positive changes in peoples' lives.

While recalling the 4th BIMSTEC summit held in Kathmandu in 2018 that envisioned a better legal and institutional framework for BIMSTEC, he underlined the need to make the 5th BIMS- TEC Summit successful in furthering and deepening regional cooperation for greater benefit of the region.

The meeting recommended signing the following legal instruments during the 5th BIMSTEC Summit: BIMS- TEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility in Colombo, Sri Lanka; and, Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Cooperation between Diplomatic Academies/Training Institutions of BIMSTEC Member States. The meeting noted that member states were in the process of completing internal procedures for adoption of the finalised text of the BIMSTEC Charter at the BIMSTEC Summit. Rationalisation of sectors and sub-sectors of BIMSTEC, Template of the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of the BIMS- TEC Centres/Entities, and BIMSTEC Masteplan for Transport Connectivity are also envisaged to be signed/ adopted during the Summit.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting held extensive discussion on preparation for the 5th BIMSTEC Summit and finalised the draft text of the BIMSTEC Summit Declaration.

The meeting was hosted by Sri Lanka as the current chair of the regional grouping.

The Nepali delegation led by Minister Gyawali included the foreign secretary, senior officials from the MoFA, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers; Ministry of Home Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation; Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies; Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport; and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 2, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.