Bimstec summit was very important for Bangladesh: PM

DHAKA, Sept 2, 2018 (BSS) -Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today described the just-concluded BIMSTEC Summit in Nepal as very important for Bangladesh, saying that all quarters have highly praised her participation as well as Bangladesh’s role in the summit.

“In overall consideration, the 4th Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and other related meetings held before it were very important for Bangladesh,” she said reading out a written statement at a crowded press conference held at her official Ganabhaban residence here this afternoon.

The prime minister added: “My participation in the summit and Bangladesh’s important role in the preceding meetings were highly acclaimed by all quarters.”

The press conference was convened to brief media about the outcome of her visit to Nepal for attending the 4th BIMSTEC Summit.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali were present on the dais.

State Minister for Information Tarana Halim, newly-elected Mayor of Rajshahi AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and senior Awami League leaders were present at the press conference moderated by PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

The prime minister said the 4th BIMSTEC Summit was held in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu on August 30-31. “In the summit, a high-level Bangladesh delegation led by me took part,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said this year’s BIMSTEC Summit was very crucial as the seven-nation regional grouping has already completed 21 years.

The main theme of the summit was “Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region”.

The prime minister said she delivered her address in the opening session of the summit on August 30 after the welcome address of the Nepalese premier.

Sheikh Hasina said in her address she called upon the BIMSTEC nations to jointly face poverty, climate change impact, terrorism and other problems.

“I also urged the BIMSTEC leaders to make the grouping more strong and effective against the backdrop of its 21 years of success and failure,” she said.

She said she called upon them to implement the 16-point declaration adopted in the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Meeting held in Goa of India in 2016.

In the fast changing global scenario, Sheikh Hasina said, she put emphasis on reviewing and reorganising 14 important issues of cooperation among the BIMSTEC regions.

The premier said she also called upon the member states to work together to develop the BIMSTEC as a more dynamic and fruitful organisation through reorganising the issues of cooperation into three main clusters namely “Sustainable Development”, Security and Stability” and “People to People Contact” on priority basis.

Besides, she laid importance on formation of Free Trade Area, boosting investment, cooperation in power sector and investment of capital.

In this connection, she called for consolidating fundamental legal frameworks to carry forward the substantive engagements in the cooperation to produce visible results.

About an MoU signed on BIMSTEC power grid interconnections, Sheikh Hasina hoped that the MoU would create new areas of cooperation on electricity in the BIMSTEC region.

The prime minister said she joined the BIMSTEC Leaders Retreat on August 31 and exchanged views with leaders of the member states on further increasing cooperation on bilateral and regional issues.

She said the BIMSTEC leaders gave various guidelines to make more dynamic the various fields of regional cooperation of the BIMSTEC.

“We also reviewed the progress on the mutual cooperation in different fields including extension of trade and investment, formation of the Free Trade Area, development of regional communication system, power and energy, climate change and culture,” she said.

The premier said she proposed for making the BIMSTEC Secretariat more efficient and fruitful to increase cooperation of the BIMSTEC nations.

She said on the sidelines of the summit, she held bilateral meetings with Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Indian Premier Narendra Modi and Chief Adviser (head of interim government) of Bhutan Dasho Tshering Wangchuk.

At the meeting, the Nepalese premier mentioned the deep relations with Bangladesh and expressed his country’s interest to produce and export hydroelectricity to Bangladesh.

She said the Nepalese prime minister put emphasis on expediting the bilateral and regional cooperation through sharing mutual knowledge and experiences.

The prime minister said her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during the meeting expressed his commitment to taking the Bangladesh-India relations forward further.

“The ties between the two countries could be an ideal for any two neighbours,” Sheikh Hasina said quoting the Indian premier. The Indian prime minister highly praised Bangladesh’s increasing progress and development and hoped that the BIMSTEC will be a strong platform of regional cooperation.

Sheikh Hasina said she thanked him for India’s role in Bangladesh’s development.

The premier said during the meeting with Bhutanese chief adviser, she expressed Bangladesh government’s firm commitment to regional cooperation.

She said she also proposed use of Bangladesh’s seaports and Syedpur Airport by Nepal and Bhutan.