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Transcript of Media Briefing on BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit (October 17, 2016)

October 18, 2016

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Good afternoon friends and welcome to the final press conference of BRICS-BIMSTEC 2016. We have just had summit level interaction between India and Brazil. It is now continuing over lunch which Prime Minister is hosting for His Excellency Mr. Michel Temer, President of Brazil.

Yesterday as you all know we had the BRICS Summit followed by the BIMSTEC Outreach and a couple of bilaterals. Because the BIMSTEC Outreach meeting concluded quite late and the last bilateral, in fact, finished at 11:30 pm, we could not brief the media at that time.

First I will be briefing you on the two bilaterals that Prime Minister had last evening. Thereafter Secretary (East) Smt. Preeti Saran will give you a briefing on the very important BIMSTEC Outreach Summit that was held.

Leaders Retreat Outcome document has already been uploaded on our website, I don’t whether all of you have had a chance to look at it and that also has some very strong language on terrorism and other aspects of development partnership with the BIMSTEC countries.

Secretary (East) will first give you a readout on the BIMSTEC Summit, thereafter she will give you a readout on the very important discussions that were held between India and Brazil today.

So let me begin with the two bilaterals and let me also welcome two Joint Secretaries who are joining us on the dais, Jt. Secretary (BIMSTEC) Shri Soumen Bagchi and Jt. Secretary (LAC) Shri Ashok Das.

The two bilaterals that the Prime Minister had yesterday, first one was with Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda.

Prime Minister began by saying how happy he was to be meeting Prime Minister Prachanda for the second time in a short period of time. He thanked the Nepalese Prime Minister for accepting his invitation to come for the BIMSTEC Outreach Summit.

Prime Minister Prachanda said that he was delighted to return to India again in a very period of time. He described the BIMSTEC Outreach as a new and historical initiative which would have far reaching results. The two leaders then reviewed bilateral ties. Both of them agreed to expedite implementation of all ongoing projects particularly in the developmental and the energy sectors as also the community based projects.

Both leaders noted with satisfaction that the next meeting of India Nepal Joint Commission will be held in New Delhi later this month to review comprehensively all aspects of bilateral cooperation.

Prime Minister Prachanda shared with Prime Minister Modi his government’s efforts to form a broad consensus from the Himalpahad to the Madhesh region and to take all sections of society onboard in respect of constitutional implementation.

Prime Minister Prachanda conveyed that the people of Nepal are looking forward to welcoming the President of India on a bilateral visit to Nepal very shortly.

At the end Prime Minister Prachanda raised the issue of anti-dumping investigation on jute products from Nepal to which Prime Minister responded, he would look into this matter. So that were broadly the discussions that were held with the Prime Minister of Nepal.

Let me now turn to the meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. She began the meeting by thanking Prime Minister Modi for inviting her to the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Meeting. In fact she used the expression that, "Thanks to you all of us have been brought together” meaning countries of Bay of Bengal region.

Prime Minister said that all these countries are very very important countries which are bordering the ocean because in a sense he said that they all represent "the blue economy zone” and in times to come this would become very important aspect of economic partnership and cooperation and hence the BRICS-BIMSTEC meeting was already yielding very substantive outcomes.

After this there was a focused discussion on terrorism. Prime Minister first of all thanked Sheikh Hasina for the solidarity that she and Bangladesh had shown with India after the Uri attack as also the statement that they had issued regarding the SAARC Summit.

He commended Sheikh Hasina for the very strong action that she was taking to counter terrorism in Bangladesh, in fact he said that your battle against terrorism is yielding very positive results. You have shown us all a new template on how to fight terrorism so successfully.

Thereafter Sheikh Hasina gave a very detailed presentation on various steps that the Bangladesh Government had taken in the wake of the Holly Artesan restaurant terrorist attack, how she had contacted all the districts of Bangladesh to get everybody on the same page, to unite against terror. How she had also taken on board all the Imams to raise their voice against terror and she said that now public awareness is very high in Bangladesh against the menace of terrorism. Prime Minister totally agreed with that and said that terrorism can only be contained through strong public support.

Thereafter they reviewed the ongoing projects in various sectors. Prime Minister remarked that the video conferencing with Bangladesh was going very well as you know they have had two or three video conferences in the recent past where they launched various projects through the video conferencing mode.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that we all remember very fondly your visit to Bangladesh and the very far reaching impact it had, the number of projects that we launched so when are you planning to come to Bangladesh again? Prime Minister said I very much enjoyed my visit but it was very short, but the point that Prime Minister made was he said that I want that countries of our region should be able to visit each other at very short notice without really the protocol considerations coming in the way. That is a message that Prime Minister has also been raising in the SAARC context that just as leaders in Europe and leaders in East Asia for instance, are able to meet fairly regularly at very short notice, same should be the case for the countries of our region.

So that was broadly the gist of discussions with Bangladesh. I will now stop here and handover to Secretary (East) Smt. Preeti Saran to brief you on the very important BIMSTEC Outreach Summit and the document that was issued.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: Good afternoon, thank you Vikas, thank you all for joining us here and it gives me an opportunity to brief you about two important events. One was the BIMSTEC Leaders Retreat that took place yesterday which was followed by the BRICS BIMSTEC Outreach Summit.

As the summit concluded very late, we couldn’t brief you yesterday but today provides us an opportunity and then subsequently I will also brief you about India-Brazil bilateral summit which has just concluded, you were all there for the media statements made by our leaders and they are still going on. Presently there is a banquet lunch that our Prime Minister is hosting for the President of Brazil.

I will begin with BIMSTEC. BIMSTEC as you know, is a grouping of seven countries, five from South Asia and two from South East Asia. The acronym BIMSTEC stands for The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. It was launched in 1997 and it has held three summits. One in 2004 which was held in Bangkok, 2008 in Delhi and then in 2014 at Nay Pyi Taw.

Nepal is the present Chair of BIMSTEC and Dhaka is the secretariat for BIMSTEC. The five countries from South Asia include India, Nepal Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and from South East Asia it includes Myanmar and Thailand.

For us BIMSTEC holds immense importance primarily because it connects South Asia to South East Asia and with it, it provided the North Eastern Region of India as a bridge between the two groups.

BIMSTEC started as a group of economic cooperation with different sectors including Transport, Tourism, Trade, and Agriculture etc. and today our areas of cooperation have grown to 14 sectors.

Our Prime Minister took the initiative to invite the leaders of the BIMSTEC countries while we were hosting the BRICS Summit and we thought this would be a very important opportunity for the two dynamic groupings i.e. BRICS and BIMSTEC to come together, to work together and to coordinate in a mutually beneficial relationship.

The presence of BIMSTEC leaders in Goa has definitely enriched the BRICS Summit. It added a new dimension of interaction and potential for cooperation between our two groupings. The first was a retreat format in which the leaders of BIMSTEC countries exchanged views and ideas in an informal setting on a wide range of issues of global and regional significance.

The leaders that were present, initially as I mentioned to you all the leaders to have been there but unfortunately because of the sad demise passing away of His Majesty King of Thailand, the Prime Minister of Thailand sent his representative and the other leaders were represented at the Summit level.

The leaders sat together and realized the need to infuse new energy and rejuvenate the BIMSTEC in the 14 sectors where there is already an ongoing cooperation. I will tell you which are the specific sectors on which our leaders from BIMSTEC gave emphasis and where it was decided to move forward with concrete action.

One was the BIMSTEC framework agreement on Transit, Trans-shipment and Movement of Vehicular Traffic. The other one was to work towards the BIMSTEC Trade Facilitation Agreement. The next was to have an annual exercise on BIMSTEC Disaster Management. We are all disaster ridden countries. We at some stage or the other face natural disasters and so this is a very important element of cooperation and our leaders gave us the direction to work for cooperation in this sector.

Information Intelligence Sharing and annual meeting of our National Security Chiefs was yet another important outcome that was decided by our leaders.

It was agreed to fast track the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement talks. It is also decided that we should initiate talks on BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and expand BIMSTEC Energy Trade cooperation, set up a BIMSTEC Center for Technology Transfer, a BIMSTEC Economic, Technical and Infrastructure cooperation.

You would remember that just before we came to Goa, I had an opportunity to brief some of you who were present there as well, about the areas of cooperation and you had asked me what would come out of it, so these are the outcomes that have come out of it. On Cooperation on countering radicalization and terrorism, I’ll just stop here for a moment to tell you about how this particular issue, I’d mentioned as somebody had asked me would terrorism be discussed, and of course terrorism was discussed because the entire region is plagued by the scourge of terrorism and this is something that the leaders felt very strongly about. They raised it in their discussions including in the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit where all the leaders repeatedly emphasized that how important it is to combat the scourge of terrorism.

This is also reflected in the outcome document that had come out of this summit. We have put it on our MEA website so please do access it, it will certainly give you the list of areas of cooperation and other activities that our leaders have directed us to focus upon. But as far as the terrorism paragraph is concerned and as Vikas had mentioned, I’ll just read out some of the salient points of what our leaders decided.

First, they recognized that terrorism continues to remain the single most significant threat to peace and stability in our region and reiterated their strong commitment to combat it in all its forms and manifestations and they stressed that there could be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.

Our leaders condemned terrorism in the strongest terms including the recent barbaric terror attacks in the region. They strongly believed that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organizations and networks but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against states who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorist groups and falsely extol their virtues. There should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs.

Our leaders recognized the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism and it is in this context that it was agreed to hold talks amongst our National Security Advisors.

The other important outcomes include connectivity i.e. both physical and economic, connecting South Asia to South-East Asia. Then there were discussions on BIMSTEC mutual assistance on customs matters. This connects to the instructions we received to move forward on Trade Facilitation Agreement. Mutual assistance in customs matters also forms a very important component of trade facilitation.

We were also instructed to focus on Agriculture cooperation and our leaders decided to set up a BIMSTEC Eminent Persons Group so that they can provide new energy, new ideas on how to further rejuvenate this grouping.

I will stop here as far as BIMSTEC is concerned and then move on to the Brazil bilateral summit that has just happened. Brazil is a strategic partner for India. We have had a strategic partnership relationship with them for the last ten years. India and Brazil cooperate very closely with each other on important multilateral and pluri-lateral forums foremost being United Nations including for the reform of the Security Council.

We are part of the G4 group, in addition to that we are part of several other groupings whether it is related to climate change, the basic BRICS, the fact that the summit took place as the part of this grouping and Brazil is a very important member of BRICS, then there is IBSA and there are other groupings that we are cooperating in.

We coordinate our positions very closely on WTO, at the World Intellectual Property Organization and other issues where we as two democracies, two developing countries with aspiring populations, focused upon growth and sustainable development, have a lot in common so this particular visit takes place in that backdrop of our strategic partnership.

The Brazilian delegation was led by the President and you know that he was appointed President in September this year. He was an acting President for three months before he assumed his position as President. He is accompanied by his spouse and a very high level delegation that included the Foreign Minister, the Trade Minister and the Agriculture Minister.

The program elements are known to you. It started with restricted talks followed by delegation level talks. A very important component of summit meetings was our leader’s meeting with the business community from the two countries. There were six CEOs from India and six CEOs from Brazil who had met earlier this morning and discussed ways and means and how we could boost our cooperation in trade and investment and then presented their outcomes and they shared their thoughts with our leaders on how we can rejuvenate our trade and investment relationship.

Followed by that were the four agreements that have been signed. One of them was the India Brazil Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty. The second one was on cattle genomics. The third one was on agriculture, animal husbandry, natural resources and fisheries and the last one was cooperation among our drug regulators.

I read out these details just to give you an idea about how our discussions went. Focus was on economic and trade relations where both realized that there is immense potential and so far we have not lived up to our potential in spite of it being such a strong relationship.

Our leaders also recognized that India-Brazil relationship being a strategic partnership has no issues and so it was felt that we should definitely enhance our cooperation in the defence sector including in defence production. The specific areas identified for that was ship-building where our Prime Minister invited Brazil and Brazil businesses to participate in Make in India program focused on defence production. In fact the Prime Minister mentioned that there are strengths that India has, for example in the space sector and there are requirements that Brazil has and on the other hand Brazil has certain strengths where we have requirements so it is a win-win situation, a mutually beneficial relationship, a relationship where there are so many synergies that can be developed in the area of space cooperation, in ship-building, in defence production, in agriculture, in oil & gas exploration, in pharmaceuticals.

Again here President of Brazil recognized how Indian generic drug companies have done exceedingly well in providing affordable medicine to not only the people in India but in so many other parts of the world and Brazil wanted to partner with India in this for production of affordable medicines for their own people. These are some of the specific areas of cooperation.

I will stop here because these are the main highlights and will be happy to take additional questions on specific aspects of the India-Brazil relationship of course as well as on BIMSTEC.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:
Floor is now open for questions.

Question from Times Now: The question is related about terrorism, the BIMSTEC document that talks about it in detail. It makes a very important reference that terrorists should not be glorified as martyrs, of course in reference to Burhan Wani, I would presume. Was there at any point during the discussions from India side any details of the India’s surgical strike in POK shared because Burhan Wani was discussed, such things were discussed so any details shared at any point and if Additional Secretary could talk about Sartaj Aziz’s comment recently, just yesterday, reacting to BRICS..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: We did not had a bilateral with Pakistan. I have briefed on bilaterals with Nepal and with Bangladesh. Please wait for my regular weekly press briefing.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: On the terrorism aspect it was discussed, it was felt very strongly. Of course the leaders conveyed their condolences to the attacks in Uri and other incidents of terror that have taken place in India and in the region and each of the leader recognized what a scourge it is and how important it is, and each of these countries have been victims of terrorism.

So we are not looking at, say one individual, we are looking at glorifying a terrorist, we are looking at generally terrorists. It is a collective fight of entire international community and the fact that seven leaders of the region feel so strongly about this just shows that they all recognize that terrorism has no boundaries, there can be no good and bad terrorists and you cannot glorify terrorists. This is a very strong sentiment expressed by all the leaders.

Question from Asahi Shimbun: Bangladesh has also faced threats of terrorism and many attacks and they have sought our cooperation on counter-terrorism. So particularly when it came to Bangladesh bilateral meeting, are there any specific points made by Bangladesh on counter-terrorism by both the countries?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: As I said she gave a very detailed briefing to the Prime Minister on the kind of steps that the Bangladesh government had taken in the wake of the Holy Artisan terrorist attack and Prime Minister commended her for the very strong action, as you have seen after that there have not been any more attacks in Bangladesh.

The entire public of Bangladesh, Ulema community with one lakh signatures came out against terrorism saying that this is not what the religion teaches etc. So that was the context in which this was weighed and it was not in the context of expanding our counter-terrorism cooperation which already as you know, is very robust.

We have a joint working group on counter terrorism and on border management and both are working very effectively. Bangladesh has extradited a number of wanted terrorists from Bangladesh into India. From that point of view it was not an outstanding issue that needed to be addressed.

There is already a very robust cooperation on counter terrorism between India and Bangladesh. This was more in the context of Prime Minister really appreciating the very strong stand that Sheikh Hasina personally and the Bangladesh government had taken against terrorism and how that could set a new template for countries on how to tackle this menace of terrorism.

Question from Business Standard:
Can you identify the dozen odd CEOs who took part in those discussions and what were their suggestions? Secondly on BIMSTEC, yesterday Aung San Suu Kyi talked about some of the BIMSTEC countries needing development assistance. I am assuming the reference was to the New Development Bank, but were there any suggestions, any demands raised during the discussions?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran:
It did not come up in the BIMSTEC context but that said, yes of course, BIMSTEC as a multi-sectorial organization for technical and economic cooperation is in fact intended to help promote growth and development and cooperation. So yes as I listed out the areas of cooperation where our leaders mention.

Coming to the other question about the business CEOs who participated in the business event with our Prime Minister and President of Brazil. From the Indian side the business CEOs were, and each of these have business interests or potential business interest in India and Brazil, so there was Mr. Jay Shroff, CEO of UPL Group, Mr. Onkar Kanwal, Head of Apollo Group, Mr. Tulsi Tanti, Chairman Suzlon, Shri Narendra Murkumbi, Vice Chairman of Shree Renuka Sugar Ltd.

By the way ethanol was a very important element when we talked about cooperation in the agriculture sector, Brazil has huge strengths in ethanol and the President of Brazil in fact indicated how they have experience in converting ethanol as a new and renewable energy resource and they plan to convert it almost into a commodity and they offered to help India as we offered to help them in space cooperation, so therefore the presence of this particular business leader was important.

Then there was Shri Narendra Kumar Verma, Head of ONGC Videsh and OVL has very important investments in Oil & Gas in Brazil. Then there was Shri Apuva Parekh, Executive Director of Pidilite.

From the Brazilian side, Mr. Jose Rubens de La Rosa of Marco Polo Group led the discussions. There was head of Stefanini which is a services software IT consulting company. There was President of FIRJAN which is non-profit organization again on Services business development sector and lastly there was head of Brazil-India Chambers of Commerce.

Question from Hindustan Samachar: BRICS business trade fair mein, business forum ki meeting mein aur ab Bharat aur Brazil ke beech mein business ko lekar bahut saari baatein hui hain. Kya aap ye batayenge ki kitni Indian companies wahan par hain, aur Brazilian companies yahan kaise aa rahi hain, isko lekar koi thos baat hui hai, kyonki abhi tak, jo hamari thodi se jaankaari hai, yadi main galat hoon to aap sahi keejiyega, Wipro ka ek facility center wahan par hai, jo sabse bada investment Indian companies ka hai from the private sector and that caters various companies of Brazil. Uske alawa aur koi bahut badi Indian company ka investment wahan nahi ho raha hai aur Brazilian company kya India mein invest kar rahi hain, isko lekar kuch thhos hua hai kya?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: Thhos baat specific sectors ko lekar kai hui hain. Pehle to aapko wahan par Indian companies ke baare mein bata doon, ek to OVL hai jiska wahan par almost 3 billion dollar ka investment hai, oil and gas exploration mein. Iske alawa BPRL aur Videocon ka ek joint venture hai jinhone wahan par Brazilian company Petrobras ke saath milkar en oil and gas exploration mein invest kiya hai. Unka pre salt blocks hain usmein unhone kareeb 700 million dollar ka investment kiya hai. Suzlon ki wahan par dilchaspi hai. Hamari kai saari pharmaceutical companies wahan par hain aur Wipro ke alawa aur bhi IT companies hain wahan par. UPL has investments there. So these are some of the Indian companies which are already existing and interested.

On the Brazilian side, they tend to export mostly commodities. So there is copper and gold, soya oil, phosphate and crude oil. Crude oil is a very important component that they export to us.

There is a new interest in pharmaceuticals. Recently a new company has just set up a joint venture on establishing ATM machines. So some of the big companies, jaise automobiles mein Marco Polo hai, but chhoti chhoti companies in the small and medium sector are also interested in coming up.

But most important was the desire on the part of Brazil to send more of their bigger companies in the aircraft sector and interest on our part for inviting them to participate in ship-building sector, in technologies on ethanol. Our Prime Minister repeatedly requested and mentioned that it is very important that you have strength in certain sectors and we have strength in certain sectors, we can join hands for research and development and innovation. The interest on the part of India was very well received by Brazil and they agreed that we will and we should form separate task forces in the area of defence cooperation, ship-building, aircrafts and agriculture as well as food chains. Agro processing and food chains were a very important component.

In addition to that Prime Minister and President recognized and acknowledged that we recently had preferential trade agreement talks with the Mercosur countries which comprises Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, abhi tak usmein sirf 400 tarriff lines offered hain but ab baat chal rahi hai ki isko aur expand kiya jaye. To ye bhi ek mudda tha jo utha tha ki humari dono taraf se ye chesta rahegi ki Mercosur ke tahat agar hum isko aur badhava de saken to aur bhi tariff lines khul jayengi.

Uske alawa aap concrete aur thos muddon ki baat kar rahe hain, thos muddon par ek aur baat uthi thi aur who hai non-tariff barriers ki kis tarah se we can both sit together.

Abhi humari ek trade meeting hui thi, humari Commerce Ministry ka delegation wahan gaya tha, they have also identified areas of trade facilitation and where we can focus upon issues which are impediments, quite apart from tariffs, there are issues of non-tariff barriers, of phytosanitary issues which will be discussed. So the fact that it has been brought to the attention of our leaders and they spent so much time discussing these aspects recognize the potential and gave that signal to business leaders who in turn also offered many suggestions and they were very upbeat after they had their morning meeting, they conveyed to the leaders exactly in the areas where they wanted to work together for more cooperation.

Question from News24:
Ab jabki samapan ho raha hai is karyakram ka toh jab ye nirnay liya gaya Bharat ke dwara ki SAARC mein nahi jana hain toh us waqt kai tarah se interpret kiya gaya, par ye nirnay sahi saabit hua jab SAARC ke baaki deshon ne bhi Bharat ke is faisle par sahmati jatayi. Aap logon ne hi abhi ye jaankaari di hai ki BIMSTEC ko bulane ka faisla April ke mahine mein hua tha. Aise mei ye sawal hai ki kya Pakistan ko kootneetik taur par alag thalag karne ki jo Bharat ki koshish hai uski shuruaat April se pehle yaani Pathankot ki ghatna ke baad hi ho gai thi aur kya usi nirnay ko yahan Goa mein Karyanvit kiya gaya hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Dekhiye hum log is tarah ke muddon par baat nahi karte hain. Agar koi alag thalag hua hai, isolate hue to woh us desh ki apni neetiyon ki wajah se hua hai, usmein Bharat ko kuch karna nahi pada hai kyonki baaki jitne bhi desh hain unhone khud, ek swar mein ye kaha hai ki is samay jo vatavaran jo bana diya gaya hai, aatank ka, us mahaoul mein hum sakaratmak vaarta nahi kar sakte hain SAARC ke sandarbh mein. Sabse pehle patra jo tha woh Afghanistan ne preshit kiya tha Nepal ko, fir Bharat ne, fir Bangladesh ne, fir Bhutan ne uske baad Sri Lanka ne, Nepal ne khud kaha, Maldives ne, toh jab sabhi SAARC ke desh ek mat se, ek swar mein bole ki SAARCH Shikar Sammelan, Islamabad mein is vatavaran mein nahi ho sakta hai to uska nishkarsh aap khud hi nikal sakte hain.

Question from NewsX: In the bilateral between India and Nepal, the terrorism aspect did figure, security aspect figured, in that did India raise concerns regarding Dawood Ibrahim gang and the operatives that still exist in Nepal and have been a huge concern for India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: This issue did not figure in the discussions.

Question from Hindustan News: Does Brazil support India’s bid for NSG wholeheartedly or is this kind of a conditional kind of approach?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: As I mentioned, Brazil had conveyed to us their understanding and they also conveyed that they will work with member countries of NSG to help us in this direction.

Question: Bangladesh aur Bharat ke beech mein jo baat hui hai kya wahan par Bharat-Bangladesh Seema ko poori tarah se band karne ko lekar Assam ke Mukhyamantri Sonowal ne kaha hai, usko lekar koi baat hui ki 2018 tak awaidh pravasiyon ko lekar koi baat hui hai kya?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Kal is vishay par koi charcha nahi hui.

Question: We saw a lot of mention of terrorism in the statement that has come out of the BIMSTEC. It’s obvious that BIMSTEC as an organization is evolving and it’s got the political support of all the member countries but when we look at BIMSTEC as an organization with a future of its own, we see that there are differences among BIMSTEC members also, whether its Nepal and Bhutan on refugees and Bangladesh and Myanmar on the Rohingiyas and terror issues differ from country to country based on those differences also. Do you think India would like to play a role in these sort of issues and bring the countries closer for a common regional purpose and development goal?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: India is a founding member of BIMSTEC and it was founded in 1997. India has remained committed to BIMSTEC for the last 19 years and next year is the 20th anniversary of BIMSTEC which provides us with a very important opportunity not only to celebrate this organization but to also rejuvenate it.

The enthusiasm with which the leaders of our BIMSTEC countries accepted our Prime Minister’s invitation to be present here. We are very delighted and honored that they were here, also indicates the enthusiasm for rejuvenating and it was clear by the instructions they gave us yesterday.

You can see from the long list of areas of cooperation, these have come straight from the leaders at retreat and now we member countries as an officials are duty bound to ensure that we focus on these areas of cooperation and rejuvenate them and we were told that these should be done in a time bound manner. And so that is what we will be doing.

As far as India is concerned, India already is prepared to take on asymmetric commitments, it always has. Already there is a secretariat in Dhaka and India contributes more than its proportionate share so we contribute 32 percent of the secretariat costs etc. So we will continue to play that role given our commitment to this organization and this grouping.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: I think that is a good note on which to conclude the press conference. Just a reminder for those of you who are not staying on here on your company’s expense and enjoying Goa and returning to Delhi, please join us for the BRICS Media Forum tomorrow at 11:00 am. EAM is going to inaugurate it. There will be your colleagues from all the five BRICS countries including China, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. I think it will provide a very good platform for an informed discussion on the outcomes of the BRICS Summit but also in a more general way on BRICS in a changing world, how do each of these countries perceive the role of BRICS, what BRICS can do, what the media in BRICS countries can do. It’s an open invitation, all of you are welcome to join us for the BRICS Media Forum.

Thank you all

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