Foreign ministers and high officials of seven South Asia and South East Asian countries yesterday assembled in Kathmandu for negotiations on market access for professionals, reduction in duty, investment and connectivity in the region.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali left Dhaka yesterday, who is leading Bangladesh at the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec).
Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba inaugurated the meeting attended by ministers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan. Myanmar and Thailand sent their deputy foreign ministers there.
Member countries are closely watching India's efforts to promote Bimstec after a stalemate in the functioning of Saarc because of differences in opinion between New Delhi and Islamabad, diplomatic sources said.
India's enthusiasm for Bimsetc was first manifested during the BRICS-Bimstec Outreach Summit in Goa.
Meanwhile, the 18th session of the Bimstec senior officials meeting began yesterday.
They discussed matters relating to the formation of the Eminent Persons' Group, Bimstec Free Trade Agreement, establishment of Bimstec Grid Interconnection and prepared agenda for the ministerial meeting. The senior officials meeting and ministerial meetings approved the nomination of Bangladesh's Ambassador in France M Shahidul Islam as the new secretary general of Bimstec. Nepal is the current chair of the Bimstec. Its secretariat is located in Dhaka. The ministerial meeting, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Bimstec, today will review the progress and achievements in 14 areas of cooperation and discuss ways to accelerate the cooperation under the Bimstec.
It will also discuss the dates for the fourth summit of the Bimstec to be held in Nepal later this year. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, will chair the ministerial meeting as the leader of the Nepali delegation.