BIMSTEC summit 'overlooks' Rohingya crisis

Published: August 31, 2018 21:24:33 | Updated: September 11, 2018 21:27:13


-Reuters Photo

The Rohingya crisis, which has received massive international attention, was not discussed in the just concluded fourth BIMSTEC summit in Nepal.

The summit of BIMSTEC member-states, which ended on Friday, expressed a tough position against terrorism and agreed to hold even states accountable for encouraging, supporting or financing terrorists, reports bdnews24.com.

But there was no mention of the plight of the over one million Rohingya people who have fled “ethnic cleansing” in Myanmar and taken shelter in Bangladesh.

The Kathmandu declaration also avoided the issue though it is being seen by many as a security challenge for the region if it remains unresolved for years. Myanmar President Win Myint attended the summit.

The leaders in the Kathmandu declaration called upon all countries to devise a “comprehensive” approach for countering terrorism.

The leaders of the seven countries along the Bay of Bengal expressed their resolve to achieve, leveraging on BIMSTEC’s unique position as a bridge linking South and Southeast Asia, an enhanced level of economic and social development in the region, and remain fully committed to consolidate and deepen cooperation among member states.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation  (BIMSTEC) was established in 1997 and now being seen as an alternative to SAARC.

Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand are the members of the grouping which received much attention in recent years following India-Pakistan tension that resulted in postponement of 2016’s SAARC summit in Islamabad.

The grouping is promoting 14 priority sectors of development and common concerns including trade and investment, transport and communication, tourism and people-to-people contact as the forum is focused on economic and technical cooperation.

But countering terrorism gets a priority with the member states holding national security chiefs’ meetings regularly. The next meeting will be held in March next year in Thailand.

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