Sushma Swaraj arrives in Kathmandu for 15th BIMSTEC meeting

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in Kathmandu

According to Dinesh Bhattarai, Foreign Relations Adviser to Deuba, the meeting especially focused on Deuba's upcoming state visit to India from August 23.

Besides taking part in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) meeting, Sushma Swaraj will meet Deuba, President Bidhya Devi Bhandrai, opposition leader K.P. Oli, Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" and Madhesh-based leaders. She said,"Nepal ka vikas ho, hum usmein bhagidari karte hain, usmein saath dena chahte hain".

Sudhakar Dalela, Joint Secretary (North) in the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry, said at a media briefing later that both leaders "discussed Bimstec-related matters and cooperation in the context of the Bimstec Ministerial Meeting as also a range of bilateral issues that we have between India and Bhutan". The BIMSTEC is a sub-regional grouping comprising of seven countries of South Asia and South East Asia.

Earlier, in her address External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj noted that BIMSTEC countries represent one-fifth of world humanity and said the region is also one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

Ministers agreed to prioritize sector-wise cooperation especially on trade, connectivity, energy, disaster management, technology, poverty alleviation and countering terrorism and violent extremism and speedy implementation of the pledges and commitments already made.

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It said the participants in the meeting took note of Thailand's draft Concept Paper on Bimstec Master Plan for Connectivity and tasked the Bimstec Transport Connectivity Working Group (BTCWG) to develop the draft master plan for further consideration.

Emphasizing on tourism promotion, she said that BIMSTEC specific tourism products, notably the Buddhist circuit, would allow tourists to experience the rich and shared civilizational heritage.

Pointing out that Bimstec has a combined GDP of over $2.85 trillion, Sushma Swaraj said: "There remains however an huge unfulfilled potential for deeper economic integration".

Arguing for deeper economic integration, she said that BIMSTEC has a combined GDP of over United States dollars 2.85 trillion but the potential remains unfulfilled.

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