ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has called for an early finalisation of the charter of the Association of Parliamentarians of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member states, a foreign ministry statement said.
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, who was elected chair of the 17th session of the BIMSTEC at a virtual conference held in Colombo yesterday (01), said parliamentarians are more likely to be committed to democratic principles upon finalisation of the charter
There will be opportunity for them to exchange views and information on parliamentary practice, the minister was quoted as saying at the conference, he added.
The implementation of the BIMSTEC Transport Connectivity Master Plan prepared by the Asian Development Bank was also discussed at the event attended by BIMSTEC member states Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand, the ministry said in the statement.
Constraints faced during the ongoing pandemic by transport links, including coastal navigation, waterways, ports and harbours which have been used for centuries, should be studied and plans should be made to suit the supply of air cargo, public relations and regional development, in the future, the minister said.
Gunawardena recently drew protests from Myanmarese agitating against the country’s military junta for inviting Myanmar’s military-installed foreign minister under the military junta Wunna Maung Lwin to attend the BIMSTEC ministerial meeting.
Issuing a statement to clarify the matter, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said as the Chair of the BIMSTEC and the host of the ministerial meeting, Sri Lanka has invited all member states to participate in the discussions.
Speaking to The Hindu on March 10, Secretary to the Foreign Ministry Admiral (Rtd) Jayanath Colombage, too, said Sri Lanka has invited the incumbent Foreign Ministers of all the fellow BIMSTEC members.
“Our invitation to the incumbent Foreign Minister of Myanmar is only within the ambit of BIMSTEC. Unless BIMSTEC expels Myanmar, Sri Lanka has no mandate to exclude them,” he was quoted as saying.
Colombage had said that the government was yet to decide on its position on the junta takeover in Myanmar as Sri Lanka is busy battling with the UN Human Rights Council session. (Colombo/Apr02/2021)