Mekong River foreign ministers agree to five-year action plan for cooperation


Source: The Nation 

Date: 16 December 2017

DALI, CHINA - FOREIGN MINISTERS from six countries that straddle the Mekong River adopted a five-year action plan of cooperation when they met in Dali, southwest China, yesterday.

The meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) brought together senior diplomats from China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The plan will take the LMC to a new level over the coming years, said China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who chaired yesterday's meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhon.

The LMC has identified 45 projects since its first summit in China's Sanya last year and many of them have made significant progress with strong financial support from China.

The plan, the list of projects and other reports of joint working groups, will be forwarded for final adoption when leaders of the six countries meet on January 10 in Phnom Penh, said Cambodian minister Prak Sokhon.

Established in 2015, the LMC is a cooperation scheme among countries in the Mekong basin.

"The LMC is not a talk shop, but a bulldozer moving forward steadily and firmly to make the cooperation become true," Wang Yi said after the meeting.

He said the LMC would not replace other regional and sub-regional cooperation schemes in the Mekong basin but would supplement their frameworks.

The LMC is sitting well in Asean with three pillars of cooperation – political-security; economic-sustainable development; as well as social-culture and people-to-people exchanges – to help fulfil its work, he said.

The LMC is important to help support and supplement China-Asean relations, he said.

The LMC has five key priorities – connectivity, productivity capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources, agriculture and poverty reduction.

Wang said the group agreed to synergise the LMC with the development strategy of each country, China's One Belt One Road Initiative and relevant development programmes of Asean.

In order to realise their cooperation and projects, individual members have set up secretariats. Wang said there would be a joint secretariat to run the LMC in the future.

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