New Delhi: As Pakistan launches an ambitious multilateral agreement to connect South Asian nations on road and rail networks, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh have joined forces to conclude a similar agreement to promote regional trade and cultural exchanges between them. The Heads of State and Government welcomed the significant progress made in completing the SAARC Convention on Motor Vehicles and the SAARC Regional Railways Agreement and agreed to hold a meeting of Transport Ministers within three months to finalise the agreements submitted for approval. They renewed their commitment to significantly improve regional connectivity by building and upgrading roads, railways, inland waterway infrastructure, energy networks, communications and air links, to ensure a smooth cross-border flow of goods, services, capital, technology and people. The Heads of State and Government stressed the need to link South Asia with neighbouring regions, including Central Asia, and beyond through all types of connectivity, and called upon the relevant authorities to take national, regional and subregional measures and make the necessary arrangements. Once concluded and signed, regional rail and road agreements should improve transport links with the region and promote trade and people-to-people contacts. Other objectives include the promotion of economic integration in the region and the implementation of the corresponding parts of the South Asian Free Trade Area Agreement. The agreement provides for the promotion of safe, economically efficient and environmentally friendly road transport in the subregion and will continue to assist each country in establishing an institutional mechanism for regional integration. The BBIN countries will benefit from reciprocal international passenger and freight transport for the overall economic development of the region. The Saarc Regional Multimodal Transport Study, carried out in 2005 by the Saarc secretariat, had recommended multilateral agreements allowing for the free movement of persons, goods and services within the region by road and rail, which were subsequently endorsed by Member States. For connectivity with Bangladesh, he said the Agartala-Akhaura New Line (trans-Asian link missing) is underway, while two projects have been approved with Nepal – jogbani-Biratnagar-link and Jayanagar-Bijalpura to pass the track to Bardibas. The agreement also aims to promote the transport corridors of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar (APIBM) through a proposed Asian highway, a trans-Asian railway, and land and sea routes connecting South Asia to Southeast Asian countries, China, Central Asia and West Asia. . .