Dhaka, Colombo vie for sub-regional bloc secretariat

May 22nd, 2009 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, May 22 (IANS) Sri Lanka, where a quarter century of ethnic conflict has just ended, is keen to host the secretariat of sub-regional bloc Bimstec. Bangladesh has been wanting to host the secretariat as well.
The issue was discussed here at a two-day meeting of the joint working group of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec).

Bangladesh hopes to house the secretariat as major players of the grouping hinted at their support for Dhaka, the New Age newspaper reported.

However, Sri Lanka too proposed to house the secretariat within the premise of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies in Colombo.

Sri Lanka at the meeting said the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was over and they could now easily house the secretariat. Some member countries had earlier expressed their reservations about Colombo in view of the security situation there.

The structure, functions, locations, remuneration packages and financial mechanism were discussed at the meeting, but a decision on the location of the secretariat was deferred.

“We have discussed various proposals and decided to leave it for the foreign ministers to give the final nod,” Kazi Imtiaz Hossain, director general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) wing in the Bangladesh foreign ministry, told the newspaper.

Established in 1997, the regional forum has seven members - Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan.

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