BIMSTEC Summit in Delhi on Nov. 13

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (UNI) The second BIMSTEC Summit of the Heads of State/Government from countries around the Bay of Bengal, to take forward the integration process between India and Southeast Asia, will be held here on November 13.

The Summit being held after four years, will discuss ways to bring Asia and Southeast Asia closer in at least 13 sectoral areas including trade and investment, energy, conter-terrorism, transportation, economic development, tourism, environment protection and people-to-people contact.

The previous Summit was held in Bangkok in 2004.

N Ravi, Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry, said at a press conference here today that the Summit will be preceded by a meeting of senior officials from the BIMSTEC countries on November 11 and of the BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers on November 12.

After the Summit, the Heads of State/Government will make a joint call on President Pratibha Patil.

A parallel Business Summit will also be organised on November 12 on the margins of the Foreign Ministers' meeting.

Describing the BIMSTEC as a ''bridge'' between South Asia and Southeast Asia, Mr Ravi said the Summit ''complement'' bilateral relations between India and the member-States of the BIMSTEC.

''We look at it as a major event in the regional context...'' he added.

BIMSTEC countries at present have a trade volume of about 20 billion US Dollars and there are prospects for its future growth. A significant size of the population in the region depends upon agriculture, he added.

Replying to a question, Mr Ravi said a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the BIMSTEC countries was under discussion and some progress had been achieved.

''Some countries are yet to get back to us. Discussions are on,'' he added.

Replying to a question, Mr Ravi said some bilateral meetings were being scheduled between Prime Minister Manmhan Singh and other BIMSTEC leaders. However, nothing had been finalised yet.

UNI RB SBC VC1905

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