Jaishankar to host BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat

The first edition of the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat was held in Thailand’s Bangkok on 17 July 2023. BIMSTEC comprises seven Member States – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand…reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will host his counterparts for the 2nd BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in New Delhi on July 11-12.

The Retreat will present an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of BIMSTEC nations to discuss avenues to broaden and deepen cooperation in various sectors, including security, connectivity, trade and investment, people-to-people contacts etc in the Bay of Bengal region and littoral, according to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

In a press release, MEA said, “The Retreat will present an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of the BIMSTEC countries to discuss, in an informal setting, avenues to broaden and deepen cooperation across various sectors including in the fields of security, connectivity, trade and investment, people to people contacts etc, in the Bay of Bengal region and littoral.”

The first edition of the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat was held in Thailand’s Bangkok on 17 July 2023. BIMSTEC comprises seven Member States – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

The MEA noted, “The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), brings together seven countries of South and South East Asia for multifaceted cooperation.”

Bhutan’s Foreign Minister DN Dhungyel and Myanmar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister U Than Swe on Wednesday arrived in New Delhi to attend the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal stated that Dhungyel’s visit will further strengthen the close bonds of friendship and cooperation between India and Bhutan.

In a post on X, Jaiswal stated, “Warm welcome to @FMBhutan D.N. Dhungyel as he arrives in New Delhi for the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat. The visit will further strengthen close bonds of friendship and cooperation between India & Bhutan and advance regional cooperation.”

Sharing details regarding Myanmar Deputy PM’s visit, Jaiswal in a post on X stated, “Deputy PM & FM U Than Swe of Myanmar arrives to a warm welcome in New Delhi for the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat. Productive discussions on strengthening regional cooperation for a prosperous, connected and secure Bay of Bengal region lie ahead.”

For India, the BIMSTEC regional forum acts as a convergence of its “Neighbourhood First” policy, or “Act East” outlook and the interests of the Indian Ocean.

Earlier in June, EAM Jaishankar extended wishes on BIMSTEC Day and reiterated India’s commitment to achieve shared prosperity through a resilient and open BIMSTEC region.

Taking to X, Jaishankar stated, “Warm wishes on BIMSTEC Day! India reiterates its commitment to achieve shared prosperity through a resilient and open BIMSTEC region. May our time-honoured links grow even stronger.”

The first edition of the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 17, 2023. That inaugural meeting laid the groundwork for this year’s discussions, highlighting the importance of continued dialogue and cooperation among the BIMSTEC member states. The Bangkok retreat was noted for setting a precedent in fostering a cooperative environment that goes beyond formal diplomatic engagements.

Bhutan’s Foreign Minister DN Dhungyel and Myanmar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister U Than Swe have already arrived in New Delhi to participate in the retreat.

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal highlighted the significance of these visits in strengthening bilateral and regional ties. He posted on social media platform X, “Warm welcome to @FMBhutan D.N. Dhungyel as he arrives in New Delhi for the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat. The visit will further strengthen close bonds of friendship and cooperation between India & Bhutan and advance regional cooperation.”

Jaiswal also welcomed Myanmar’s Deputy PM with a post stating, “Deputy PM & FM U Than Swe of Myanmar arrives to a warm welcome in New Delhi for the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ Retreat. Productive discussions on strengthening regional cooperation for a prosperous, connected and secure Bay of Bengal region lie ahead.”

For India, the BIMSTEC forum aligns seamlessly with its “Neighbourhood First” and “Act East” policies, providing a strategic platform to engage with its immediate and extended neighbors. India’s proactive role in BIMSTEC underscores its commitment to fostering regional cooperation, connectivity, and economic integration.

In June 2024, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar extended his wishes on BIMSTEC Day, reaffirming India’s dedication to a resilient and open BIMSTEC region. He stated, “Warm wishes on BIMSTEC Day! India reiterates its commitment to achieve shared prosperity through a resilient and open BIMSTEC region. May our time-honoured links grow even stronger.”

The retreat is expected to address key challenges and opportunities in the region. Security discussions will likely focus on combating terrorism, maritime security, and transnational crime. Connectivity will cover infrastructure development, digital connectivity, and transport links to enhance trade and people-to-people ties. Economic cooperation will include discussions on enhancing trade, investment, and economic integration among member states.

The informal setting of the retreat is anticipated to facilitate open and frank discussions, enabling the ministers to address sensitive issues more effectively. This approach aims to build trust and foster a cooperative spirit among the BIMSTEC nations.

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