Kathmandu, Aug 28: A meeting of senior officials of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) member states kicked off here on Tuesday. In the meeting chaired by Nepali Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi, foreign secretaries from the members countries held talks on trade and investment, transport and communications, technology, counter-terrorism and transnational crime, agriculture, poverty alleviation and public health. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the fourth Bimstec summit on August 30-31. During his visit, his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli is expected to hold talks with him, the Kathmandu Post reported. On Tuesday, the foreign secretaries were also expected to prepare the agenda for the main summit. Bimstec Foreign Ministers will meet on Wednesday to discuss the Kathmandu Declaration.
Nepal serves as the current chair of the sub regional body formed in June 1997. It comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Nepali officials said preparations for the main summit were complete. According to the itinerary, after two back-to-back meetings of the senior officials and foreign ministers, formal opening of the summit will take place on Thursday. The heads of government will start arriving in Kathmandu on Wednesday. Before the opening session of the summit, Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari will meet Bimstec leaders and will host a luncheon in honour of the visiting delegates.
Later, all the heads of state/government will make their opening remarks during a programme chaired by Oli. He will then hold talks with the leaders in the evening. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutanese Chief of interim government Lyongpo Tshering Wangchuk, Myanmar's President Win Minta, Sri Lankan President Maitripala Sirisena, and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O Chale will take part in the summit.