At the invitation of Her Excellency Mrs. Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, U Win Myint, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and First Lady Daw Cho Cho paid an official visit to Nepal from 28 to 29 August 2018 and attended the Fourth Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) held in Kathmandu from 30 to 31 August 2018.
The Myanmar Delegation led by President U Win Myint left Nay Pyi Taw in the afternoon of 28 August 2018 by special flight. Upon their arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, the President and entourage were welcomed by Mr. Ishwor Pokharel, Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal, Thiri Pyanchi U Tun Nay Lin, Myanmar Ambassador to Nepal, Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, responsible officials from Nepal and the Myanmar Embassy in Kathmandu. The Guard of Honour saluted the President at the Airport.
In the evening, the President, First Lady and Myanmar Delegation visited Myanmar Embassy in Kathmandu. They were welcomed by Thiri Pyan Chi U Tun Nay Lin, Myanmar Ambassador to Nepal, Staff Members and their families. At the Embassy, the President received Mr. Shiva Kumar Agrawal, Chairman of Nepal-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and members, Mr. Shanker Ghimire, Chairman of Nepal-Myanmar Friendship Association and members respectively. Then, the President and First Lady cordially met with the Ambassador, staff and family members of the Myanmar Embassy and attended the dinner hosted by the Myanmar Ambassador.
In the morning of 29 August 2018, the Myanmar Delegation left for the Sacred Garden of Lumbini by air and visited Maya Devi Temple and paid homage to the holy birth place of the Lord Buddha. President U Win Myint also visited the Pandita Rama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Centre and the Myanmar Golden Temple. The President and entourage paid homage and offered offertories to the residing monks.
The President met with Rt. Hon. Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, at Malshree Hall of Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kathmandu in the evening on the same day. They cordially exchanged views on matters pertaining to the further advancement of bilateral ties and cooperation in various sectors including the exchange of high-level visits between the two countries, democratic transition and peace process as well as enhancement of bilateral trade and investment. Then, the President and Myanmar delegation called on H. E. Mrs. Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal at the Presidential Palace. The two leaders discussed on promoting bilateral ties and cooperation, promoting people-to-people contacts and pilgrimage tourism. Afterwards, the President and First Lady attended the Banquet hosted by the Nepalese President in honour of the visiting Myanmar delegation. The two Presidents exchanged toasts at the banquet.
On 30 August 2018, President U Win Myint met with H. E. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka, at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel. At the meeting, they discussed matters pertaining to the promotion of bilateral relations and cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, promotion of tourism and direct flight linkages, peace and national reconciliation, reviving of the ministerial level Joint Commission (JC) meetings, and continued closer collaboration in the regional and multilateral fora. The President of Sri Lanka also extended an invitation to the President to pay a visit to Sri Lanka.
In the afternoon, President U Win Myint together with other leaders of BIMSTEC member states made a joint call on H.E. Mrs. Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal at the President Office and attended the Luncheon hosted by the President of Nepal.
Myanmar delegation led by President U Win Myint then attended the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit held under the theme of “Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region”. The meeting was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal, and attended by H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, H.E. Mr. Dasho Tshering Wangchuk, Chief Advisor of the Interim Government of Bhutan, H.E. Mr. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, H.E Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka and H.E. Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha (Retd.), Prime Minister of Thailand.
At the Meeting, the leaders of BIMSTEC member states delivered their National Statements. In his Statement, President U Win Myint reviewed the progress and challenges of the BIMSTEC cooperation since the establishment of the BIMSTEC in 1997 and highlighted the progress of cooperation and future course of action in the areas of Agriculture and Energy which Myanmar took the role of lead country. He also stressed the need for formulation of the Rules of Procedure and Charter of BIMSTEC as institutional framework for effective cooperation, as well as for rationalization of the current cooperation in order to produce tangible results. He expressed continued and active cooperation in the areas of Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, and encouraged all member states to intensify their efforts in the core areas of BIMSTEC cooperation.
The leaders of BIMSTEC stressed that the BIMSTEC has vast potential for development as it represents 22 per cent of world’s population, combined GDP of $2.8 trillion and six per cent average economic growth and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening BIMSTEC for shared prosperity. The leaders also stated that all Member States need to overcome the challenges of development by fostering the cooperation in multiple sectors including infrastructure, trade, business, tourism, energy, road and connectivity and highlighted the need to focus on key areas such as connectivity, trade, people-to-people contact, security, science and technology in order to make BIMSTEC more effective and result-oriented.
In the evening of 30 August 2018, President U Win Myint attended the Gala Dinner hosted by the Rt. Hon. Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal in honour of the visiting delegations to the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit. During the dinner, cultural troupes from the BIMSTEC member countries entertained with the cultural performances.
In the morning of 31 August 2018, President took part in the Retreat Session over the breakfast together with other leaders of BIMSTEC members. The leaders exchanged views on the issues of connectivity, promotion of pilgrimage tourism, climate change and natural disasters, strengthening of BIMSTEC institutional mechanisms and rationalization of BIMSTEC cooperation areas.
Afterwards, the Leaders attended the closing ceremony of the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit. The leaders witnessed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection by Ministers of all member states. The MoU provides a framework for the cooperation of intra-regional grid interconnection for the trade in electricity. Prime Minister of Nepal then handed over the Chairmanship of BIMSTEC to the President of Sri Lanka.
The Fourth BIMSTEC Summit Declaration was adopted at the end of the meeting. In the Declaration, the leaders agreed to rationalize current cooperation areas for the tangible results, to establish BIMSTEC Permanent Working Committee (BPWC) to deal with administration and financial matters of the Secretariat, to formulate Rules of Procedure and BIMSTEC Charter as the institutional framework, to strengthen the Secretariat by raising the number of Directors from three to seven and to enhance cooperation in the areas of counter terrorism and trans-national crime. The leaders also welcomed the Myanmar’s proposal to host the first ever Meeting of BIMSTEC Agriculture Ministers in 2019.
On the sidelines of the BIMSTEC Summit on 31 August 2018, the President met with H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. The two leaders cordially discussed the matters related to consolidation of existing friendly relations and cooperation, consolidation of democracy, India’s support in the peace process, continued constructive support for the development of Rakhine State and promotion of trade and investment, and closer cooperation in the regional and international fora.
The President also met with H.E. Mr. Dasho Tshering Wangchuk, Chief Advisor of the Interim Government of Bhutan. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed matters related to promoting friendship and cooperation, boosting trade, investment and connectivity, collaborating in regional and multilateral fora. Then, President U Win Myint received Mr. Rajish Kaji Shrestha, Chairman of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and members at Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel.
At the meeting, the matters pertaining to the promotion of trade between the two countries and more investment from Nepalese businessmen in Myanmar, and participation of Myanmar in the forthcoming Nepal Trade Fair to be held in Kathmandu in October this year.
BIMSTEC was initially founded in the name of BIST-EC by Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand on 6 June 1997 with the Bangkok Declaration. Myanmar joined the group on 22 December 1997, and it was renamed as BIMSTEC. Bhutan and Nepal joined the group during the sixth ministerial meeting in February 2004 in Phuket, Thailand. The cooperation mechanism currently has 14 cooperation areas and two special additional cooperation areas.
After attending the Summit, President U Win Myint, and First Lady Daw Cho Cho, accompanied by U Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for International Cooperation and responsible senior officials arrived back from Kathmandu to Nay Pyi Taw by special flight in the evening of 31 August 2018. —Ministry of Foreign Affairs