India to host BIMSTEC foreign ministers’ meet next week

New Delhi will host the foreign ministers of the BIMSTEC grouping next week, on July 11. BIMSTEC or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation is a seven-member grouping which has Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand as its members.

The grouping basically includes countries that border the Bay of Bengal as its members, working towards cooperation in the region in several areas.

New Delhi's hosting of the BIMSTEC FMs meet comes ahead of the summit that will take place in September, later this year in Thailand for which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel.

The inaugural BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers meet was hosted in Bangkok, Thailand last year. India hosting the BIMSTEC FMs meet shows New Delhi's continuous focus on the "Neighbourhood First" policy.

Last month, leaders of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles were in New Delhi to attend the oath-taking ceremony of PM Modi at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The group came into its present form in 2004, though its precursor emerged in 1997, with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand as its founding members. With SAARC losing its momentum, the group has seen a lot of vigour, and enthusiasm, especially with strong support from New Delhi. 

Earlier this year, the BIMSTEC Charter came into force giving legal backing to the grouping, a development welcomed by member countries.

With this, the grouping can establish a legal and institutional framework for cooperation in the region, enable the admission of new members and conclude agreements with other countries and groupings. 

Notably, the current secretary general of the BIMSTEC grouping is Indra Mani Pandey, an Indian Diplomat. This is the first time that the grouping, whose permanent secretariat is located in Dhaka has got an Indian diplomat as its chief.

Previously, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, and Bhutanese diplomats have held the top post of the grouping.