BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and brings together 1.5 billion people or 21% of the world population and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over $2.5 trillion.
Nepal is the current Chair of the regional grouping and the Foreign/ External Affairs Ministers of the member states failed to finalise the date of the fourth BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Nepal later this year.They agreed to fix it through dialogue and consensus amongst the member nations.
The 15th Bimstec ministerial meeting on Friday adopted a Kathmandu Declaration on various areas of cooperation even as the seven-country meet failed to clinch a concrete deal. During her call on the President, External Affairs Minister recalled the successful visit of President to India earlier this year, which further strengthened our age old ties.
"The meeting was mainly focused on PM Deuba's upcoming India visit and how both sides can optimize the opportunity", Bhattarai said. The two sides discussed an expanded bilateral agenda reflecting the updated national priorities on Nepal.
Swaraj's visit came at a time when few days back Nepal's deputy prime minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said his country will not take any sides in the ongoing Doka Lam standoff between India and China. The ministerial meeting, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Bimstec, today will review the progress and achievements in 14 areas of cooperation and discuss ways to accelerate the cooperation under the Bimstec.
Stating that enhanced connectivity was vital to achieving Bimstec's common goals of growth, employment and prosperity, she said: "To achieve smoother cross-border flows of trade and people, we need to put in place the enabling soft infrastructure such as the Framework Agreement on Transit, Trans-shipment and Movement of Vehicular Traffic and the Agreement on Coastal Shipping, at the earliest".
Indian Foreign Minister also met a delegation of Rashtriya Janta Party Nepal, led by Mahant Thakur. However, relationship between Nepal and India has been rough since Nepal promulgated a new Constitution in 2015.