NAY PYI TAW: Seeking to transform BIMSTEC grouping into a "vibrant regional entity", India called for greater cooperation in key areas such as security, energy, economy, connectivity and people-to-people contact.
"We seek to consolidate our partnership and focus on building infrastructure and concrete projects for cooperation.
I am delighted that we are establishing our Permanent Secretariat for BIMSTEC in Dhaka; this will greatly help in coordinating our efforts in an effective way," he said in a statement during the 14th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting.
Bay Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an expression of India's Look East Policy of the 1990s, coinciding with Thailand's Look West Policy.
The seven members of the grouping are India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
BIMSTEC provides a unique link between South Asia and Southeast Asia bringing together 1.5 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world population, and a combined GDP of over $2.5 trillion, Khurshid said.
He asserted that in today's inter-linked and inter-dependent world, the commonalities between the BIMSTEC nations provides opportunities to enhance cooperation.
Khurshid called for making BIMSTEC a "vibrant regional entity" and highlighted five key areas for regional cooperation namely security, energy, economy, connectivity and people-to-people contact.
The first, he said was connectivity as the region had a deficiency of infrastructure to provide efficiencies to economies and to enhance mutually beneficial exchanges.
"Our priority should be to provide connectivity, both physical and institutional such that our region can forge ahead in the new era. I am happy that our experts will be meeting between March and June this year to finalize a short list of projects for implementation," Khurshid said.
He said there was no reason why there should not be seamless connectivity between the North East of India and Myanmar and Thailand on one side and with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal on the other.
"We need to revive coastal shipping arrangements and inter-modal transport, practices that had flourished in the past, such that goods and services can flow easily," he said.