The 21st session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) comprising Foreign Secretaries of the BIMSTEC Member States will be held virtually in Colombo, Sri Lanka on September 2 with a possibility to hold the next Summit virtually if the pandemic situation does not improve.
The Foreign Secretaries will discuss the new timeframe and modalities of the 5th BIMSTEC Summit and the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting.
Earlier, the fifth BIMSTEC Summit and the Seventeenth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting scheduled for September 3-4, 2020 in Colombo were postponed due to the prevailing situation arising from COVID-19 pandemic.
“If physical summit appears to be difficult under the circumstances, Member States could consider the possibility of holding virtual summit within this year,” said M Shahidul Islam, Secretary General of BIMSTEC.
Sri Lanka is the current Chair of the seven-nation organization comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. With the holding of the 5th BIMSTEC Summit, the chairmanship of the organization will go to Thailand.
They will discuss BIMSTEC’s role in post-COVID 19 recovery and rehabilitation with emphasis on poverty alleviation, food security and uninterrupted economic and physical connectivity in the region.
The meeting will also finalise some important agreements and documents, including the BIMSTEC Charter, envisaged to be signed or launched at the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit.
The Foreign Secretaries are also expected to recommend a new Secretary General from Bhutan to head the Dhaka-based BIMSTEC Secretariat for the next three years when the term of the current Secretary General, M Shahidul Islam, a diplomat from Bangladesh, ends on September 20 this year, according to the BIMSTEC headquarters.