External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has said that India remains committed to further building the momentum of regional cooperation under the BIMSTEC framework and make the organization stronger, vibrant, more effective and result-oriented. Delivering a statement at the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting being held virtually today, Dr Jaishankar expressed confidence that BIMSTEC would scale new heights in the times to come with the collective efforts and spirit of cooperation. He said, BIMSTEC enjoys the unique strength of connecting South and South-East Asia and it has steadily gained prominence in the Indian foreign policy.
Dr Jaishankar said, participation of BIMSTEC leaders at Indian Government’s swearing-in ceremony in May 2019 was a testament to it. He said, BIMSTEC over the years has emerged as a promising sub-regional grouping with growing strategic and economic interests of the Member States, as well as of the international community in the Bay of Bengal region. The Minister said, our collective resolve to impart a fresh dynamism to BIMSTEC has rejuvenated the organization. He expressed happiness that the region is witnessing rapid economic growth with growing political and economic cooperation among the Member States.
Dr Jaishankar said India had announced several initiatives at the last BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu to further strengthen BIMSTEC cooperation and capacity-building in diverse areas. He expressed happiness that many of these initiatives have already been implemented.
Dr Jaishankar said, development and prosperity go hand in hand with peace and security. He said, the region face both traditional and non-traditional security challenges and cooperation in the security sector has a special significance for the region. The Minister said, National Security Advisors of Member States have met thrice since 2017 and they have been working closely and moved forward in several aspects of security cooperation including counter terrorism, intelligence sharing, coastal security and cyber security in a tangible manner.
Dr Jaishankar expressed happiness that BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and illicit Drug Trafficking has come into force last month and BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters has been finalized for signing at the fifth BIMSTEC Summit. He said, these Conventions will provide a robust legal basis to further strengthen our cooperation in this sector.
The Minister said, disaster management is another important area of collaboration among the BIMSTEC countries having similar geo-climatic conditions. He said, BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate, being hosted in India, is fully functional with state of the art facilities to provide Disaster Early Warning.