Protect BIMSTEC Region From Threats Of Terrorism, Religious Extremism, Says Lanka's President Rajapaksa
Colombo, Mar 30 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa underlined the need to protect the BIMSTEC region from the threats of terrorism, religious extremism and narcotics as he chaired the fifth summit of the seven-member regional grouping on Wednesday.
In his address, President Rajapaksa said the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) nations have become the engines of growth in the global economy.
The summit was virtually represented by the leaders of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand.
The President stressed the need for protecting BIMSTEC region from the threats of terrorism, religious extremism and narcotics.
Rajapaksa also referred to Sri Lanka’s current economic crisis caused by forex shortages and balance of payment issues.
He said the country was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our tourism revenue and our inward remittances were all badly affected,” he said, expressing hope that with international and regional cooperation Sri Lankan economy would be able to bounce back.
At the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting held on Tuesday, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Pieris called for action within the grouping for greater economic cooperation.
“As the trajectory of global economic growth shifts towards Asia, the trade and investment component of BIMSTEC countries should be revitalised.” he said.
Sri Lanka’s geo-strategic location at the centre of the Indian Ocean has been a magnet, attracting a diverse variety of nations and peoples over the centuries, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for greater cooperation among BIMSTEC nations and said it has become essential to give more priority to 'our regional security'.
In his opening remarks at the summit being held online, Modi said that with the region facing challenges of health and economic security, the need of the hour is unity and cooperation.
'Today is the time to make the Bay of Bengal bridge of connectivity, bridge of prosperity, bridge of security,' he said.
Modi said India will provide USD 1 million (one million is equal to ten lakhs) in financial aid to augment the operational budget of the BIMSTEC secretariat.
Besides India, BIMSTEC comprises Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. With 21.7 per cent of the world's population and combined GDP of USD 3.8 trillion, BIMSTEC has emerged as an influential engine of economic growth.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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