Kathmandu, (Asiantribune.com): Member countries of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) have agreed to set up its secretariat in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
The agreement reached in the 13th Ministerial Meeting of BIMSTEC held in Myanmar on Saturday has ended almost five-year long row surfaced after both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh demanded to set up the Secretariat in their respective countries. The ministerial meeting has decided to provide Sri Lanka the opportunity to become the first general secretary of the sub-regional body, according Joint Secretary at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dhananjaya Jha, who participated in the meeting. A meeting of seven BIMSTEC member countries (Nepal, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand) held in Sri Lanka in the second week of December had formed two separate mechanisms to resolve the issue.
As per the understanding, the country relinquishing claim for secretariat would get to have its first general secretary of the body.
And if there was no agreement between the two countries, the member countries had decided to go for voting to end the row.
Jha said they would not need to go for voting as Sri Lanka gave up its claim for secretariat at the eleventh hour. A new sub-regional grouping named BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation) was formed on June 6, 1997. The name was changed to BIMST-EC after Myanmar, which attended the inaugural June meeting as an observer, joined the organisation as a full member at a Special Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok on December 22, 1997.
Nepal was granted observer status by the second ministerial meeting of BIMSTEC held in Dhaka in December 1998. Nepal along with Bhutan was granted full membership of the sub-regional body later in 2004.