Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India is committed to working with the BIMSTEC member states to enhance regional connectivity and combat the menace of terrorism and drug trafficking. Addressing the inaugural session of the 4th BIMSTEC summit here, PM Modi emphasised on India’s “cooperation and coordination” among member states in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
Highlighting the scourge of terrorism, PM Modi said there’s no country in the region which has not suffered from terrorism and other trans-national crimes such as drug trafficking linked to networks of terrorism. He also added that India is ready to host a conference under BIMSTEC frame-work on narcotics-related topics.
The BIMSTEC is a regional grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. The grouping accounts for 22 per cent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.8 trillion.
The Prime Minister also said that aside from diplomatic relations with all BIMSTEC countries, India is also strongly connected by civilisation, history, art, language, cuisine and shared culture.
Addressing the summit, Nepal Prime Minister Oli said BIMSTEC is not a substitute to the SAARC and the two organisations can complement each other. Oli underlined the need for implementing the BIMSTEC poverty plan as well as Millennium Development Goals for the common benefit of the member states. He stressed on the need for deeper economic integration and collaboration among the member states for speedy development of the region.
“An early conclusion of the agreements on trade in goods, trade in services, investment, mutual assistance in customs matters, dispute settlement and trade facilitation is the need of hour to enable BIMSTEC to effectively move forward,” he added.
The summit was attended by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and leaders from Thailand, Bhutan and Myanmar.