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Leaders strengthen ties between Mekong region, ROK, Japan


Cooperation between the countries in the Mekong Basin and the Republic of Korea (ROK) has grown rapidly, while cooperation between the Mekong countries and Japan has also broadened.

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This was the assessment of leaders from the Mekong countries, Korea and Japan when they met for virtual talks at the 2nd Mekong-ROK and 12th Mekong-Japan summits on Friday.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc co-chaired the summits with Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.

At the Mekong-ROK summit, leaders from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea reviewed past cooperation, especially the implementation of the Mekong-Han River Declaration adopted at the first Mekong-ROK Summit held in Busan, Korea, last year, and the work plan for 2017-2020.

The leaders said the cooperation framework had grown rapidly under the three pillars and seven priorities in the fields of culture and tourism, human resource development, agriculture and rural development, infrastructure development, information and communication technology, the environment, and non-traditional security challenges.

Laos has implemented four projects with support from the Mekong-ROK Cooperation Fund valued at US$1.5 million.

The projects concern capacity building for people and poor districts in Laos, a master plan and capacity-building for meteorology and hydrology infrastructure in the Mekong Basin, cooperation on assistance for project management in the Mekong region, and soil, water and fortification quality management to boost the incomes of farmers in drought regions of Laos.

The summit agreed to upgrade Mekong-ROK cooperation to a strategic partnership for the benefit of people, prosperity, and peace.

The leaders discussed the next five years of cooperation for socio-economic recovery in the Mekong region and Korea from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also planned to accelerate infrastructure development, human resource development in the health sector, strengthening of trade and investment cooperation, and sustainable development based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

At the 12th Mekong-Japan Summit, the leaders of the five Mekong countries and Japan reviewed the implementation of the joint statement they made at the 11th Mekong-Japan Summit, Tokyo Strategy 2018, Mekong-Japan initiative for sustainable development 2030, and programmes and projects.

The leaders noted that cooperation had progressed in many fields, particularly in infrastructure development, human resource development, sustainable development, and cooperation with various organisations in the region.

“The cooperation framework is a good stage for Mekong countries and Japan in enhancing cooperation and building capacity for the Mekong region’s economy and for its connectivity with other regions, including Asean,” a news release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

Laos has benefited from several assistance projects under Mekong-Japan cooperation. These include a survey for Vientiane-Hanoi connectivity development, bridge construction on National Road No. 9, study of an electric power system master plan, Nam Ngum 1 power plant expansion, and Wattay International Airport passenger terminal expansion.

Leaders from the Mekong countries and Japan discussed targeting the implementation of projects under the Tokyo Strategy 2018, and the Mekong-Japan initiative for sustainable development 2030.

They also discussed post-Covid-19 socio-economic restoration, especially the emergency health response for the prompt sharing of information, best practice and experience, and laboratories in handling and treating communicable diseases, which threaten nations and peoples.

Also discussed was support for businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the pandemic, especially the need to ensure they had ways to obtain funding and make use of modern technology.

Published : November 16, 2020

By : Vientiane Times/ANN