Reviving BIMSTEC and the Bay of Bengal Community Part I
On August 30 and 31, Nepal will host the fourth BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other heads of government expected to attend the summit. Founded in 1997, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, but has often struggled to develop regional cooperation and greater connectivity between South and Southeast Asia. What can we expect from the BIMSTEC summit in Kathmandu? Will BIMSTEC replace the South Asian Cooperation for Regional Cooperation? What challenges and opportunities lie ahead for the connectivity and integration agenda around the Bay of Bengal?
To discuss some of these questions, Brookings India hosted an event with a special address by Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Ambassador of Thailand to India. This was followed by a panel featuring recent research publications about BIMSTEC, including a study by Constantino Xavier, Fellow, Foreign Policy at Brookings India; an edited book by Prabir De, professor at RIS; a FICCI core group paper chaired by Distinguished Fellow at Gateway House, Rajiv Bhatia, and a paper by Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. The discussion will be moderated by Sreeradha Datta of the Vivekananda International Foundation.
The event was open to the public and press was be on-the-record.
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[The resignation of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell] is surprising news, which seems to have caught everyone off guard. He doesn’t appear to have shared this news with his ambassadors, who were in Washington last week for a global chiefs of mission conference. His deputy is also slated to retire soon, which raises question of near term leadership on European policy at a time of challenges there.
[Wess] Mitchell was a strong supporter of NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe where he will be sorely missed. His departure comes follows the resignation of senior Pentagon officials – Robert Karem and Tom Goffus – working on NATO along with Secretary Mattis. Without this pro-alliance caucus, NATO is now more vulnerable than at any time since the beginning of the Trump administration.