11 heads of state, 800 delegates to kick off Goa BRICS meet: Official

Panaji, Sep 13 (IANS) Eleven heads of states, nearly 800 delegates and a chock-a-block schedule of meetings between member states of BRICS and BIMSTEC countries and quick bilateral huddles on the sidelines will mark the two-day BRICS summit which will be held in Goa on October 15-16, a ministry of external affairs (MEA) ministry said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji late on Monday, chief protocol officer at the MEA Sanjay Verma said that while the BRICS VVIPs would be busy deliberating issues related to counter-terrorism, trade, investments, environment, security, their spouses, delegates and some accompanying ministers would also be given an opportunity to sample Goa’s cuisine, heritage as well as religious sites.

“Apart from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa who are part of BRICS, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited leaders from Bay of Bengal initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, who will also be participating in a retreat which will follow the BRICS summit on October 16,” Verma said.

The official also said that apart from the two formal meets, the heads of states will also be conducting bilateral meetings on the sidelines.

The sum of the BRICS meet would be articulated in a ‘Goa Declaration’ on the summit’s concluding day, he said.

Some of the key issues which will be discussed during the BRICS meeting will be counter-terrorism, trade, investments, environment, security, Verma said.

Verma also said that as hosts, a special programme had also been devised for spouses of VVIPs, delegates and accompanying ministers on the sidelines of the summit.

“At events like these VVIPs rarely travel to tourist destinations. We have specially curated a programme including heritage sites, temples churches, old villas, Goan restaurants for delegates, spouses and some ministers,” he said.

Verma also said that the BRICS summit, has provided Goa a great opportunity to position itself as a prime tourism and international conferencing destination and that the state beat a Southern Indian city to emerge as the host city for BRICS.

He, however, said that there was need to get over some obvious limitations of India’s smallest state, one of the major encumbrances, being its narrow roads.

“Well that is a concern, but we are taking precaution. Two things happen when a road is narrow. The speed of the movement of the convoys is compromised,” he said, adding that small roads with habitation in close proximity also adds to the element of risk.

“Goa is not perfect for an event of this nature. We are going to live with those limitations, work around them and ensure that these do not become limitations and we look at the larger picture of what is intended by making Goa the centre,” he said, adding that the BRICS organisers were seeking help from theA Delhi police, Maharashtra police, National Security Guard, Special Protection Group, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard to ensure comprehensive security.

–IANS

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