Member states of the Bimstec regional bloc on Friday reiterated their “strong commitment” to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
“We reiterate the strong commitment of our Leaders to combat terrorism, which remains the single most significant threat to peace and stability in our region, in all its forms and manifestations, and agree to take concrete measures to step up cooperation and coordination among our law enforcement, intelligence and security organisations,” a joint statement issued following the 15th Ministerial Meeting of the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) here said.
“We also agree to expedite the ratification of the Bimsted Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking, signed in Myanmar on December 11, 2009, and also to complete the internal procedures to sign the Bimstec Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters at the earliest.
Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
With the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) virtually rendered ineffective as a bloc, largely due to non-cooperation on the part of Pakistan in a number of areas, India has been giving more importance to Bimstec in recent times.
The bloc brings together 1.5 billion people or 21 per cent of the world’s population and has a combined GDP of over $2.85 trillion.
Friday’s statement further stated that member states of have commenced negotiations on Bimstec Convention Against Trafficking in Persons and have urged for early conclusion of the Convention.
It stated all sides agreed to implement the recommendations of the first annual meeting of the national security chiefs of Bimstec nations in New Delhi in March 2017 “to counter terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation; and deepen cooperation to deal with traditional and non-traditional security threats in a comprehensive manner”.