Bimstec leaders jointly slam glorification of terror

Benaulim (Goa), Oct 17 (IANS) Bimstec leaders have slammed attempts made to glorify terrorists and described terrorism as the single-most significant threat to peace and stability in the region, in a joint statement issued here on Monday.

A day after the conclusion of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) Leaders’ Retreat in the beach village of Benaulim in South Goa, an Outcome Document released jointly by the visiting leaders also called for greater cooperation between Bimstec and BRICS blocs in areas of mutual interest and on regional and global issues.

Bimstec, which comprises Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal, also noted that the grouping has considerable potential for economic and social development through mutually beneficial cooperation in the identified priority areas. The leaders also pledged to work collectively towards making the bloc stronger, more effective and result oriented.

“Recognizing that terrorism continues to remain the single most significant threat to peace and stability in our region, we reiterate our strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stress that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever. We condemn in the strongest terms the recent barbaric terror attacks in the region,” the Bimstec Leaders’ Retreat 2016 Outcome Document said.

“We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against States who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues.

“There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs. We recognize the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization,” the joint statement also said, while calling for greater cooperation and coordination among law enforcement, intelligence and security organizations for the purpose.

“We wish to express our appreciation for the opportunity of a summit between BRICS and Bimstec leaders to discuss matters of mutual interest and exchange views on important global and regional issues including the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development. We believe this joint summit will lead to greater trust and understanding among countries of the two groupings, and will promote further cooperation for their mutual benefit,” the statement said.

While both the BRICS and the Bimstec summits concluded late on Sunday evening, leaders of both blocs also met as part of an outreach summit on the same day.

Following the September 18 Uri terror attack, India, as host of this year’s BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit, chose to invite countries belonging to the Bimstec grouping over those of Saarc.

As New Delhi has launched a diplomatic blitz to isolate Islamabad in the international community, the invitation to Bimstec countries instead of the Saarc countries is being seen as another step in this direction.

In the Outreach Document, the leaders also committed to expedite signing of the Bimstec Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and early ratification of the Bimstec Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking, while also working towards making the region safer from natural disasters and climate change through sustainable development and joint disaster management mechanisms.

The leaders also called for effective tapping of energy sources better connectivity within the region and reiterated their commitment to sustainable agriculture, food security through joint efforts, while also sustainable development of fisheries in the region, which accounts for over 30 per cent of the world’s fishermen.

“We renew our commitment to the early conclusion of Bimstec Free Trade Area negotiations, and direct the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and Working Groups to expedite the finalization of its constituent agreements… We also agree to offer special and differential treatment for Least Developed Countries for their integration into the regional economy,” the Outreach Document also said.

The fourth Bimstec summit will be held in Nepal in 2017.

–IANS

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