Sri Lanka to host BIMSTEC Summit on March 30

New DelhiWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Feb 01, 2022, 06:20 PM IST

(Image: BIMSTEC) The image shows official flag of the BIMSTEC grouping Photograph:(Others)

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Sri Lanka is keen to hold the summit in-person but there are chances that it will be held in hybrid manner

The much-awaited BIMSTEC Summit (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) will be hosted by Sri Lanka on March 30. Though Sri Lanka is keen to host an in-person summit, there are chances that it will take place in a hybrid format. Most of the member states have given a formal intimation to participate at the summit. It is not yet known whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Sri Lanka or will participate virtually.

The summit will see approval of the BIMSTEC Charter, BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity & BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The group will also work towards finalisation of the BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement.

BIMSTEC is a 7-member grouping that includes India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. The grouping is more than 20-years-old and was formed in 1997. The last summit took place in Kathmandu in 2018 with PM Modi and other member-leaders in attendance. Sri Lanka is the current chair of BIMSTEC. The group has assumed greater importance for New Delhi since SAARC remains hostage to Pakistan. In 2019, India had invited all BIMSTEC heads of government & states for PM Modi's oath-taking ceremony for his second term in office.

Sri Lanka was keen to hold the summit last year but the summit could not take place due to the Covid crisis. In April last year, BIMSTEC foreign ministers met virtually. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also attended the meet.

The summit in March this year will naturally be in focus because of Myanmar's presence. The country saw a military coup last year February 1 and not many nations have been keen to host the current military leadership of the country. Remember, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) during its 2021 annual summit did not invite Gen Min Aung Hlaing who seized power in Myanmar.