The seven-nation regional grouping BIMSTEC on Wednesday adopted a charter to expand its overall cooperation and approved a complete reorganisation of the grouping's cooperation activities at a virtual summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of the bloc, under which India will lead the grouping's security pillar.
The group also firmed up a master plan for transport connectivity during the summit.
PM Modi announced $1 million as an ad-hoc grant for the operational budget of the grouping's secretariat, according to Rudrenda Tandon, the Additional Secretary in India's Ministry of External Affairs looking after the BIMSTEC division.
At a media briefing, Tandon said the leaders of the BIMSTEC member countries also approved a complete reorganisation of the grouping's cooperation activities. Henceforth, the BIMSTEC cooperation activities will take place in seven pillars and each of the member countries will lead one pillar. India will lead the security pillar of the BIMSTEC, according to Tandon.
BIMSTEC members include India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
Shortly after the Summit, MEA said the adoption of the charter has given the BIMSTEC an "international personality" and it reflected a significant evolution of this grouping.
Tandon said the summit, hosted by Sri Lanka, also finalised three documents providing for the expansion of cooperation.
From our perspective, the signing of the charter is the most important outcome, Tandon said, adding the Summit made "incremental progress" in further expansion of cooperation among the member states.
In his address, PM Modi proposed that the pace of cooperation be accelerated and the grouping should not rest after the adoption of the charter.
Tandon said Modi also spoke about the need to move forward in areas of connectivity, marine cooperation, security and economic integration.
India has been making concerted efforts to make BIMSTEC a vibrant forum for regional cooperation as initiatives under SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) were not moving forward for a variety of reasons.
With PTI inputs