BIMSTEC likely to finalise anti-terror pact this month

August 13th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Dhaka, Aug 13 (IANS) The seven-members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) are likely to finalise an anti-terror pact later this month that would help them closely cooperate in the fight against terrorism. The foreign ministers of BIMSTEC are scheduled to meet in New Delhi Aug 29 when the anti-terror agreement is likely to be finalised.

The proposed pact gathers special significance in the wake of a series of terror attacks in India and elsewhere in the region in recent months. The aim is to break the regional network of the terror outfits through closer cooperation, timely and freer exchange of information among the member countries about the terrorists.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are the seven members of BIMSTEC.

The foreign ministers might finalise the anti-terror pact and other important documents so that they could be formally signed during the forthcoming BIMSTEC Summit that India would be hosting in November this year.

“The proposed pact would be on the lines of the one signed by members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at the recent summit in Colombo,” an official of the ministry of external affairs told IANS.

Five of the countries — India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka — are also members of the SAARC.

“Since an agreement to combat terrorism has already been signed in the SAARC, we are hopeful that we will also be able to have one with the BIMSTEC members,” the official said.

This view was also reflected in Bangladesh. Quoting Bangladeshi foreign ministry sources, the New Age newspaper in Dhaka said the proposed anti-terror pact would enable sharing of intelligence information among the member countries and help in fighting cross-border terrorism.

The sources said it would help in combating international terrorism, organised crime and illicit drug trafficking and at fighting cross-border terrorism “with united efforts”.

The Bangladeshi sources added the pact would help member-states share information on the activities of individuals and groups, identified or suspected to be engaged in trans-national crimes like smuggling of arms, explosives, drugs and humans.

“It will also help keep track of the networks of patrons and funding sources,” the New Age said quoting Bangladeshi officials.

There is also hectic lobbying amongst BIMSTEC members for setting up a permanent secretariat. At present, it functions as a temporary set up from Bangkok. But Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand are keen that the permanent secretariat of the BIMSTEC be set up in their country.

A decision on this may be taken at the foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi. Meetings of the foreign secretaries and senior officials of the seven countries from Aug 26 would precede it. Among other things, the meetings would also discuss the setting up of two centres - one for climate studies and the other for energy.

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