Sri Lankan President likely to attend BIMSTEC Summit in India

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New Delhi, Oct 29 (UNI) The current crisis in Sri Lanka involving the Tamils would figure in the talks of Indian leaders with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is expected to visit New Delhi to take part in the three-day BIMSTEC summit to be held here from November 11 to 14.

Almost confirming his visit, Indian and Sri Lanka officials said that arrangements were being made for it.

The visit would give Mr Rajapaksa an opportunity to discuss bilateral issues and explain his country's position in the context of the ongoing offensive against the LTTE, which had affected the security and safety of the large Tamil community in the Island Nation.

The humanitarian situation in which Tamils have landed, has evoked widespread concern in India and become very emotive issue, especially in the southern state of Tamil Nadu where a threat was made by the DMK, an ally of ruling UPA for resignation of its MPs, posing a serious crisis to the Government.

The Lanken president would hold talks with heads of the BIMSTEC countries on November 13. The summit will be preceded by Secretary level talks on November 11 and ministerial level talks on November 12, the officials said.

The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation) has seven members, including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.

This will be the second summit of the group, which held its first summit in Bangkok in 2004.

A new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok in June, 1997 and was named BIST-EC or Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation.

Burma attended the inaugural meeting as an observer and joined the organisation as a full member at a special ministerial meeting held in Bangkok in December, 1997. During that meeting, the name of the group was changed to BIMST-EC.

In 1998, during the second ministerial meeting in Dhaka, Nepal was granted observer status. Later full membership was granted to Nepal and Bhutan in 2004.

At the first summit in 2004, members agreed that the grouping should be known as BIMSTEC or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

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