India wants BIMSTEC to focus on five key areas

Nay Pti Taw, March 3: India Monday outlined five focus areas for the seven-nation BIMSTEC to realize the full potential of the regional grouping of 2.5 billion people with a combined output of $2.5 trillion.

“In today’s inter-linked and inter-dependent world, commonalities between us provide opportunities to enhance our cooperation,” Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told the ministerial meeting ahead of the summit.

“BIMSTEC is privileged to have a full and active membership committed to its priorities,” said the foreign minister, who is part of the delegation accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the summit in this Myanmar capital.

The foreign minister highlighted five focus areas for BIMSTEC, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan:

* Providing connectivity for seamless movement between India’s northeast, Myanmar and Thailand on one side and with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal on the other.

* Facilitating economic development as a strategic imperative and promoting technology and innovation, while providing better livelihood to the people of the region.

* Addressing energy security concerns blessed with natural resources with cooperation in the use of gas, hydro-power, renewable energy sources and grid interconnections for mutual benefit.

* Working to address the security concerns of the difficult neighbourhood that has a high incidence of terrorism and other transnational crimes.

* Encouraging people-to-people links, which is by far the strongest link in bringing together the cultural experiences of the seven countries by promoting tourism and youth exchanges, among other facets. Khurshid said India was keen to make this happen.

“We are committed to developing our organization and promoting a strategic perspective to our common efforts such that our region and our peoples can take advantage of the opportunities in this new century.”

Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at arvind.p@ians.in)

IANS