India on Wednesday attended a key a meeting of the regional grouping BIMSTEC which discussed ways to further expand cooperation among its member nations to effectively deal with key challenges including impact of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
The Indian delegation at the virtual meeting of the grouping was headed by Secretary (East) in Ministry of External Affairs Vijay Thakur Singh, they said.
The Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) of BIMSTEC under the chairmanship of Sri Lanka discussed ways to deepen cooperation among the member nations and holding of the next summit of the grouping, they said.
A number of issues including ways to boost cooperation in dealing with economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was discussed in the meeting, the officials said.
The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
The grouping accounts for 22 per cent of the global population, and has a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.8 trillion.
India has been pushing for making BIMSTEC a vibrant forum as various regional initiatives under SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional) were not moving forward primarily due to non-cooperation from Pakistan.
For India, BIMSTEC is a natural choice to take forward key foreign policy priorities like ''Neighbourhood First'' and ''Act East'' as the bloc enjoys the strength of connecting South and South-East Asia.
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