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HomeNewsFirst inter-ministerial meet held to promote ties with neighbours

First inter-ministerial meet held to promote ties with neighbours

The first meeting of Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group (IMCG) on India‘s neighbourhood outreach, convened by foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday, focussed on construction of cross-border infrastructure for enhancing trade with Nepal, expanding railway connectivity with Bangladesh, addressing special needs of Bhutan and Maldives besides humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Shringla is said to have referred to the PM’s directions on mainstreaming of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. He is understood to have emphasised on the need for greater connectivity, stronger inter-linkages and greater people-to-people connect with countries in India’s neighbourhood and called for a whole-of-government approach.

The IMCG has been setup as a high-level mechanism (secretary-level) towards mainstreaming of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, in line with vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials explained.

Secretaries of ministries/Departments of home, commerce, finance, fisheries, representatives from ministries/departments of defence, railways, economic affairs, consumer affairs, agriculture & farmers’ welfare, information & broadcasting and from Cabinet Secretariat, National Security Council Secretariat as well as other relevant agencies along with heads of border forces participated in the meeting, officials informed.

The meeting deliberated upon and took important decisions on various aspects of India’s bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the areas of trade and investment, connectivity, border infrastructure, immigration, development cooperation, border security, etc.

The IMCG is supported by Inter-Ministerial Joint Task Forces (JTF) convened by the concerned joint secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs. The government’s efforts to deliver benefits like greater connectivity, stronger inter-linkages and greater people-to-people connect under India’s Neighbourhood First policy takes place through a whole-of-government approach with coordination involving various ministries, departments and agencies of the Indian government and of concerned state governments, officials said.

The IMCG will further improve institutional coordination across government and provide comprehensive direction to this whole-of-government approach on India’s relations with its neighbouring countries.

In addition to the IMCG mechanism, ministries and departments have been requested to accord priority to India’s neighbours in their international activities, programmes and projects, sources informed.

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