Leaders at the third BIMSTEC [the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation] summit in Burma, also known as Myanmar, have established a permanent secretariat in Bangladesh to oversee the regional grouping of nations on a full-time basis.
At a news conference Tuesday after the meeting in the capital of Naypyitaw, Burmese President Thein Sein said the new position in Dhaka will allow the seven-nation grouping to better coordinate and function more effectively.
He added that groups like BIMSTEC are critical to addressing problems in the modern world. BIMSTEC includes India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma and Thailand.
“In this age of globalization, regional and sub-regional groupings of nations with common culture and interests are no longer a matter of choice, but the need of the hour," said Thein Sein.
In addition to establishing a secretary general position, the leaders also signed agreements on setting up a Center for Weather and Climate in India to promote cooperation in scientific research for weather prediction and climate modeling.
During the session in Naypyitaw, Burma held bilateral meetings with the leaders of India and Bangladesh. No details of the meeting were released.
Burma, which handed over its BIMSTEC chairmanship to Nepal on Tuesday, also is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.