Sri Lanka has offered to host permanent secretariat for the seven-country Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
The offer was made by Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama at the 12th ministerial meeting of the grouping which ended in Myanmar's new capital of Nay Pyi Taw on Friday evening.
A statement by the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry quoted Mr. Bogollagama as saying at the meeting, “In a spirit of cooperation and widest goodwill Sri Lanka extends to all our member States, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate Sri Lanka’s offer to host the BIMSTEC Secretariat”.
With Myanmar taking over the chairmanship from India, the 2009 BIMSTEC ministerial meeting was attended by foreign ministers from all the BIMSTEC countries -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand sharing the Bay of Bengal.
Making a case for a permanent BIMSTEC Secretariat, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister told the meeting that over the last 12 years, including at its Second Summit in November 2008, BIMSTEC has made important advances in terms of identifying 13 areas of cooperation.
“Now there needs to be more of a focus on follow up on decisions made. Such an endeavour will reinforce the belief of our people that BIMSTEC is moving in a very desirable direction. In my view, to achieve all of BIMSTEC’s goals, after being in existence for 12 years, deserves a permanent secretariat”.
Outlining the reasons as to why Sri Lanka was best qualified to host the secretariat the Minister told the conference, “Sri Lanka would be one of the very few countries in the annals of history, which has succeeded in annihilating terrorism, in a comprehensive manner...”
He told the conference that Sri Lanka is ready take over the responsibility of running the BIMSTEC Centre beyond May 2010, which Thailand is currently hosting to facilitate activities of the Group. “Further, in the event that Sri Lanka is chosen as the venue for the BIMSTEC Secretariat, we are more than pleased to host the 13th Ministerial Meeting”.