Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left for Myanmar on Monday to attend the BIMSTEC Summit, making a strong push for intensifying collective efforts to combat security challenges and enhancing connectivity and trade in the region.
“Security challenges both natural and man-made, require our collective vision and determination to be overcome,” Singh said in a statement before his departure for the Myanmarese capital, Nay Pyi-Taw.
“In the security sphere, we have steadily put in place enabling legal instruments for regional approaches to international terrorism, transnational crime, drug trafficking and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, the need for which is more salient in today’s integrated world than ever before,” he said.
Singh said the BIMSTEC lay at the crossroads between SAARC and ASEAN, drawing its energy from the natural convergence of the countries around the Bay of Bengal.
“Connectivity and sub-regional cooperation in trade and investment, energy, climate, tourism, agriculture and other areas provide the spark for the growth engine in our region,” he said.
The Prime Minister stressed that peace, stability and development in BIMSTEC countries, with over 20 per cent of the world’s population and over USD 2.5 trillion worth of GDP, was ‘indispensable’, for the forward march of Asia as a whole.
BIMSTEC has evolved and matured further as a group since the last summit in New Delhi in 2008, he said.
Singh stressed that India’s bilateral relations with BIMSTEC countries are among its most important in the world.
On the sidelines of the two-day summit, he hopes to exchange notes with leaders from other Member states, whom he described as ‘close and friendly neighbours of India’.
With the impending establishment of a Permanent Secretariat in Dhaka and appointment of a Secretary General, BIMSTEC is poised to play a more active role in regional integration and cooperation, he said.
Several BIMSTEC centres are being launched throughout the region, including three in India, to foster greater technical exchanges between member countries, he said.
During the summit to be attended by leaders from seven countries including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal, Singh is expected to make a strong pitch for giving a fillip to India’s Look East policy and explore ways to enhance connectivity, transport, trade, tourism and other linkages to all the northeastern states.
In what could be his last foreign trip as Prime Minister in this tenure, Singh is likely to use his two-day visit to renew contacts with leaders of the seven-member Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) which will hold its summit in Nay Pyi Taw tomorrow.
One cannot underestimate the potential of BIMSTEC in bringing the fruits of these cross connectivity linkages to the northeastern states, says Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.
With some sticky issues still to be resolved, it may take some time for continued…
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.