Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday to attend the 4th BIMSTEC Summit, which will focus on countering terrorism, enhancing regional connectivity and boosting trade and will be attended by the members of South Asian and South-East Asian countries on August 30 and 31.

Discussion on a number of issues including security and counter-terrorism, transport and communications, environment, disaster management and strengthening economic cooperation is expected to take place among the 7-member group of nations.

Earlier, PM Modi had said that his participation in the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu signals India’s highest priority to its neighbourhood and a strong commitment to continue deepening ties with the “extended neighbourhood” in South-East Asia.

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“I will have interactions with all the leaders of BIMSTEC to further enrich our regional cooperation, enhance our trade ties and advance our collective efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous Bay of Bengal region, ” PM said in a Facebook post.

PM announced that he and his counterpart from Nepal will inaugurate the Nepal Bharat Maitri Dharmashala at the Pashupatinath temple complex.

The leaders at the summit are likely to discuss on having a tri-service military exercise among nations and will deliberate on a free trade agreement, MEA official Preeti Saran told the reporters.

What is BIMSTEC?

– The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which came into existence on June 6, 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration, is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and South East Asia.

– India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the member nations of BIMSTEC.

– The main objective of BIMSTEC is technical and economic cooperation among South Asian and Southeast Asian countries along the rim of the Bay of Bengal and it also works ‘towards a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable existence.

– BIMSTEC has 14 priority sectors which include Commerce, Investment, Technology, Tourism, Human Resource Development, Agriculture, Fisheries, Transport and Communication, Textiles and Leather etc. However, the current summit has integrated two more priority sectors – Blue Economy and Mountain Economy.

– BIMSTEC is important for India in terms of New Delhi’s Act East Policy and Neighbourhood First Policy with northeastern India acting as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia.