Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Nepal for the BIMSTEC foreign ministers meet on August 10-11, marking her first trip abroad after her kidney transplant.
According to Indian media, the meeting will help prepare for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit—to be held in the Himalayan nation at the end of the year—which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
BIMSTEC has received top priority from the Modi government as a viable regional grouping vis-a-vis SAARC—which has been besieged by Pakistan’s intransigence—to approve key regional connectivity initiatives and counter-terror plans. India invited all BIMSTEC leaders for the outreach of the BRICS leaders at the grouping’s summit last October in Goa.
The BIMSTEC, which will complete two decades this year, received momentum following a plethora of initiatives undertaken by the group in less than one year. BIMSTEC plans to put in place a comprehensive Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) at this year’s summit. This mechanism will feed into Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal, or BBIN MVA. BIMSTEC will have all multi-modal features connecting member state Sri Lanka, which is connected to the rest of the six members of the grouping only through air or sea. These mechanisms are aimed at expanding India’s ‘Act East Policy’ outreach.