President of Myanmar and Chairman of 3rd Bimstec Summit, U Thein Sein, stressed the need for collective efforts to achieve the aims and purposes of the forum to create an enabling environment for rapid economic development of the South and Southeast Asian region.
"In this age of globalisation, regional and sub-regional groupings of nations with common culture and interests are no longer a matter of choice, but the need of the hour," he said.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Sihasak Phuangketkeow, permanent secretary and special envoy to the Thai prime minister, attended the session.
Thein Sein said the theme of the Third BIMSTEC Summit is "Partnership for Harmony and Prosperity" which could serve as modus operandi in accelerating the economic growth and social progress in the sub-region through joint endeavours in a spirit of equality and partnership.
He added: "Faced with the new threats of non-traditional and transnational challenges of climate change, natural disaster, energy and food security, we have to combine our strengths and resources under the banner of Bimstec to engage with other international bodies in addressing these problems."
The Myanmar president said the top priority of the BISTEC is to alleviate poverty in the region and improve the quality of life and well-being of the peoples.
After the opening session of the summit, two memorandums of association (MOAs) and one memorandum of understanding (MOU) were signed in presence of the heads of state and government from the Bimstec member states.
These instruments are: MOA on Establishment of the Bimstec Permanent Secretariat, MOA on the Establishment of a bimstec Centre for Weather and Climate and MOU on the Establishment of the Bimstec Cultural Industries Commission (BCIC) and Bimstec Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO).
The Bimstec leaders attended a joint press conference and group photo session. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and leaders of the delegations of Bimstec states will deliver address later.