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BIMSTEC Charter proposed to be signed at 5th summit: Momen

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said the ‘BIMSTEC Charter’ is proposed to be signed at the 5th BIMSTEC Summit by the heads of governments of member states, including Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“It is expected that the charter would help the BIMSTEC forum play an effective role to make the Bay of Bengal area including Bangladesh as a sustainable peaceful and economically prosperous region,” he said at a press briefing at the foreign ministry in Dhaka, BSS reports.

Dr Momen said the charter would help the forum become dynamic, effective and productive regional organisation through incorporated efforts, meaningful cooperation and deep integration.

Heads of the governments of BIMSTEC member states will virtually join the summit to be held in Sri Lankan capital Colombo on March 30.

Like her other counterparts Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will join the Summit virtually from Dhaka while foreign minister, foreign secretaries and representatives of prime minister’s office will be present in person in Colombo.

Apart from the charter, Dr Momen said, three other instruments are also proposed to be signed at the summit while two other documents including much desired “BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity” are expected to be adopted by the heads of government.

The foreign minister said Dhaka made a strong proposal regarding the BIMSTEC transport connectivity as “We (Bangladesh) are the hub of connectivity.”

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Dr Momen said, Bangladesh has put lots of emphasis on connectivity as “we do believe connectivity is productivity”

Replying to a question, Dr Momen said Bangladesh would also raise the Rohingya issue at the BIMSTEC Summit where Myanmar is one of the member states.

“Wherever we go, we do raise the Rohingya issue,” the foreign minister said, adding that Myanmar’s Union minister is scheduled to join the summit.

Dr Momen will attend the 18th BIMSTEC foreign ministerial level meeting on March 29 before the Summit in Colombo.

State minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam was also present at the briefing.

Regarding the BIMSTEC master plan for Transport Connectivity, he said it is not an agreement rather it is a vision of the regional leaders.

He said 70 percent of work for connectivity among the BIMSTEC member states has already been completed by the own funding of the states.

Alam said the rail link up to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is part of greater BIMSTEC transport connectivity. “We hope, these days are not that far when people can go to Thailand by train or by road,” he added.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States five from South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia – Myanmar and Thailand.

BIMSTEC, established on 6 June in 1997 with four founding members including Bangladesh, now has a wider range of areas of cooperation starting from trade, investment, connectivity, and energy to cultural cooperation.