Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for greater regional cooperation among member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC summit.

He was addressing a session of the summit virtually where seven member countries of the grouping adopted the BIMSTEC charter. The charter is aimed at expanding overall cooperation among member nations and drawing a master plan for transport connectivity, PTI reported.

The BIMSTEC is a regional organisation established in 1997. The member countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Sri Lanka is hosting this year’s BIMSTEC summit.

Referring to the Ukraine crisis, Modi on Wednesday said that the developments in Europe over the last few weeks have raised questions on the stability of international order.

“In this context, it has become important to make BIMSTEC regional cooperation more active,” he added. “It has also become imperative to give more priority to our regional security.”

The prime mnister said that India would provide $1 million (nearly Rs 7.60 crore) to increase the BIMSTEC’s operational budget. He also recommended the establishment of a legal framework to increase road connectivity between member nations of the grouping and setting up of a “coastal shipping ecosystem” in the Bay of Bengal.

“Today as our region is facing challenges of health and economic security, the need of the hour is solidarity and cooperation,” said the prime minister. “Now is the time to make Bay of Bengal a bridge of connectivity, prosperity and security.”