KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) " Seven South Asian and Southeast Asian nations on Friday agreed to conclude early a free trade accord, implement the Paris agreement on climate change and step up cooperation among their security agencies to combat terrorism.
The foreign ministers of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal expressed "great concern'" over increasing threats to the planet and peoples' livelihoods from climate change and agreed to combat it at local, national and regional levels.
They met in the Nepalese capital under the aegis of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC.
Nepal is also scheduled to hold the fourth summit of the grouping later this year.
Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that climate change, natural calamities and disasters were posing threats to his country's survival.
Nepal, he said, was vulnerable to natural disasters as shown by the 2015 earthquake which killed thousands of people.
"We are also bearing the brunt of climate change despite our negligible contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. To combat all these challenges, we need stronger partnership and deeper collaboration among ourselves," he said.
The seven foreign ministers also agreed to expedite the ratification of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking, said a joint statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting on Friday.
The nations agreed to explore the possibilities of promoting energy trade in the region, particularly of renewable and clean energy sources. They finalized an agreement to be signed soon on the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection, the statement said.
In October, the BIMSTEC leaders interacted with the heads of state of five of the world's rising powers __ Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa __ during a two-day summit in the western Indian tourist resort of Goa, which focused on economic recovery and counterterrorism.