The Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand, the Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, the Secretary of State of the United States, and the Secretary-General of ASEAN met in Manila for the 10th Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting. The Ministers of the Mekong countries welcomed Secretary Tillerson’s chairmanship of the Lower Mekong Initiative.
The Secretary and Ministers re-affirmed their commitment to LMI as a primary driver of Lower Mekong sub-regional economic integration and sustainable development, pledging to continue their collaborative efforts toward peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia. The Secretary and Ministers lauded the on-going work under each of LMI’s six Pillars – Agriculture and Food Security, Connectivity, Education, Energy Security, Environment and Water, and Health, and charged the Pillars to redouble their efforts to advance regional priorities most effectively and successfully implement the LMI Plan of Action 2016 – 2020. The Ministers also emphasized the need for the LMI to work in tandem with and complement other country and regional plans of action, including ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together.
The seven participants praised the effective implementation of the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership, announced at the 2016 LMI Ministerial, noting its success in equipping LMI member states in the management and development of regional infrastructure projects. Through the Partnership, the United States committed to further practical cooperation with the Friends of the Lower Mekong and more unified and sustainable engagement with the LMI members.
The Secretary and Ministers congratulated the progress of the LMI Education Pillar, and its engagement among young scientists and academics to identify areas of regional cooperation in education and establish national focal points to coordinate joint scientific research projects, which will contribute to prosperous and sustainable development in the Mekong sub-region.
The Ministers applauded the new Mekong Water Data Initiative proposal and hailed it as an important step in developing science-based decisions of their shared river system. The Ministers concluded that enhancing the Mekong River Commission’s technical capabilities would help to facilitate data gathering and sharing in the region and requested their respective ministries to coordinate efforts to implement the Water Data Initiative effectively. The LMI members pledged to continue their close collaboration with the Friends of the Lower Mekong and the Mekong River Commission to support inclusive, sustainable and environment-responsible growth in the Mekong river basin.
The LMI partners determined to continue discussions on the restructuring of the LMI Pillars at the upcoming Regional Working Group meeting in Laos and committed to work together to improve efficiencies, reflect evolving priorities in the sub-region, and devise a results-oriented way forward.