The 17th Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ministerial meeting was convened virtually by the Government of Sri Lanka as the Chair of BIMSTEC on 01 April this week.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Lyonpo (Dr.) Tandi Dorji led the Bhutanese delegation that also included the Foreign Secretary and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In his statement, the foreign minister conveyed the warm greetings and good wishes of His Majesty The King and for the success of the meeting. He thanked the Member States for endorsing Bhutan’s nomination of Tenzin Lekphell as the third Secretary General of BIMSTEC.
He informed the meeting of the success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic under the wise, compassionate and farsighted leadership of His Majesty The King who is always at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic and its impact on peoples’ lives and livelihoods.
Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji expressed appreciation to member states for their support and friendship to Bhutan during the pandemic. He thanked the Government of India for providing generous medical supplies, including vaccines which enabled Bhutan to launch the nationwide one-week vaccination campaign on 27 March.
The 17th BIMSTEC ministerial meeting was held in preparation for the 5th BIMSTEC summit proposed to be held in August of 2021. The Ministers, amongst other important matters, adopted the reports of the 20th, 21st and special senior officials’ meeting of BIMSTEC.
It endorsed the draft text of the BIMSTEC Charter; BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Sri Lanka; Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Mutual Cooperation between Diplomatic Academies/Training Institutions of BIMSTEC Member States.
The Rationalisation of Sectors and Sub-sectors of BIMSTEC cooperation; and the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity in the BIMSTEC Region for signature/adoption by the 5th BIMSTEC Summit were also endorsed.
Under the reorganized sectors of cooperation, Bhutan has been assigned the lead role in environment and climate change.
BIMSTEC that was established in June 1997 is a regional group comprising seven Member States from the Bay of Bengal Region. Bhutan became a member of BIMSTEC in 2004.