BIMSTEC firms up convention on combating terror

August 30th, 2008 - 1:40 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) India and the six other countries of the BIMSTEC grouping Friday firmed up a convention for collectively combating terrorism in the region, including cooperation in intelligence sharing. Foreign ministers of BIMSTEC - a seven-nation grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand - discussed a wide array of issues ranging from terrorism and energy to climate change and intensification of economic ties in the region.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) finalized a convention on combating terrorism that entails intra-regional cooperation in intelligence sharing and legal and law enforcement issues. The convention also involves combating financing of terrorism and prevention of illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals.

“We expressed the hope that the draft BIMSTEC Convention be finalised as soon as possible for signing during the next BIMSTEC Summit,” said a joint statement issued after foreign ministerial meeting here.

The pact is being planned on the lines of the one signed by the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at its summit in Colombo early this month.

The pact has acquired an added urgency in view of a spate of recent terror attacks in India, an escalation in activities of extremists and terrorists in countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the increasing region-wide networking among terror outfits.

The foreign ministers of the seven countries discussed the agenda for the next BIMSTEC summit, which India will be hosting here in November.

The grouping also decided to conclude the negotiations on trade in goods under the proposed Free Trade Area agreement at an early date, preferably before the next BIMSTEC Summit.

The ministerial meeting approved setting up of centres for energy, weather and climate in India, tourism working group and BIMSTEC joint working group. Setting up a permanent secretariat for BIMSTEC, which currently functions from Bangkok, also figured in the discussions.

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