March 31, 2022
NEW DELHI – In an obvious reference to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the events in Europe in the past few weeks had raised questions about the stability of the international order and necessitated deeper regional cooperation among BIMSTEC countries.
“(As) our region faces challenges of health and economic security, the need of the hour is unity and cooperation,” he said addressing via video-conferencing the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Summit, hosted by Sri Lanka.
Apart from India and Sri Lanka, the grouping includes Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand and Myanmar.
The PM underlined the importance of agreeing on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among the BIMSTEC countries to increase mutual trade among member nations.
“The time has come to make the BIMSTEC a bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security. I call on all BIMSTEC nations to dedicate themselves to working with new enthusiasm to achieve the goals we embarked on together in 1997 (When the BIMSTEC was formed),” he added.
Modi said India was working on extending as well as expanding the scope of the BIMSTEC scholarship programme offered by the Nalanda International University.
Calling upon the BIMSTEC countries to combat terrorism, he said he was happy that they were inking a mutual legal assistance treaty in criminal matters.
The PM, along with other leaders, also witnessed the signing of three BIMSTEC agreements which represent progress being achieved in their ongoing cooperation activities.
The three accords are the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; BIMSTEC Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Cooperation in the field of Diplomatic Training and Memorandum of Association on Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility.