Top Stories : Mekong Sub-Regional Ministerial Meetings  news3

Top Stories : Mekong Sub-Regional Ministerial Meetings

      H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, participated in Mekong Sub-regional Ministerial Meetings on the sidelines of the 52th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and related meetings. On 1 August 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs co-Chaired the 12th Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting with the Hon. Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, and attended the 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Ministerial Meeting. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand co-chaired the 9th Mekong - ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with H.E. Mrs. Kang Kyung-wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, and the 12th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with H.E. Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan on 3 August 2019. The main objectives of the meetings were to review progress of the frameworks and exchange views on future cooperation and regional issues.
 
12th Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting
      To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the LMI, the 12th Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting was held under the theme “the Future of the Mekong.” The ministers from the LMI Member States commended the development of the LMI cooperation framework, recognising that the LMI has become a leading multilateral framework of cooperation that helped address regional problems as well as promoting sustainable development in all dimensions. 
      In this connection, the ministers commended the United States’ constructive role, financially and technically, in supporting past and ongoing LMI cooperation projects, especially those related to education, energy, and infrastructure. The ministers also took this opportunity to exchange views on approaches to achieve development that is sustainable, and to solve common challenges facing the region. This includes enhancing energy cooperation through regional networks of electricity grids, employing satellite imageries to assist in drought and flood forecasting, promoting human resources development especially pertaining to reducing income gap, tackling climate change in relations with drought in the Mekong, preventing environmental deterioration, improving skills for workers, and reforming rules and regulations to achieve sustainable development, to name a few. The meeting agreed that a systematic, holistic, and participatory approach should be taken by all member countries. 
      The ministers also approved two outcome documents namely; the Joint Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the Lower Mekong Initiative and Joint Statement on Strengthening Coordination among the Friends of the Lower Mekong, which not only commended past achievements under the LMI, but also laid groundwork for future possible areas of cooperation. 
 
10th Mekong Ganga Ministerial Meeting
      The ministers welcomed the developments made under the MGC during the past 19 years, which aims at generating growth and development in the Mekong sub-region while enhancing cooperation between India and the Mekong through cultural and people-to-people ties. The meeting noted and welcomed the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the MGC in 2020, and aimed to celebrate this auspicious year through a series of events. Furthermore, Mekong countries expressed appreciation to India for its contribution to the Mekong sub-region through infrastructure projects under the Quick Impact Projects (QIP), the 1 billion USD Line of Credit and the newly announced Development Fund.  Mekong countries also praised India for the drafting of the Plan of Action (2019 – 2022), which will serve as a guideline for MGC cooperation in a modern and result-oriented manner, especially in the areas of connectivity, water management, culture, trade and Buddhist tourism. Moreover, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand delivered his remarks which highlighted the importance of India’s role as a major player in current geo-politics and especially in MGC, which links South East Asia and South Asia, meanwhile the Mekong sub-region will act as its main connector through the Myanmar - India - Thailand trilateral highway and its linkages to the East-West Economic Corridor and the South-East Economic corridors. Once finalised, it will become the first economic belt physically linking the two sub-regions.  Furthermore, complementarity between MGC and other sub-regional frameworks; namely, ACMECS and BIMSTEC, was also highlighted and India was welcomed to increase cooperation in the area of digital connectivity. Lastly, Thailand welcomed India as a Development Partner of ACMECS. All of these are concrete examples of the initiatives and activities of MGC countries to enhance cooperation in a more result-oriented manner. 
      The meeting adopted two outcome documents namely; the Joint Statement on the 10th MGC Ministerial Meeting, and the MGC Plan of Action 2019-2022. 
 
The 9th Mekong - ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
      The ministers of the Mekong-ROK Member States commended ROK’s constructive role in supporting the development of the sub-region, and the ROK’s announcement to increase Mekong-ROK Cooperation Fund from 2 Million USD to 3 Million USD by 2020. In addition, the meeting agreed on important issues to further deepen cooperation, including in (1) elevating the cooperation framework to the Summit level (2) supporting areas of cooperation that the ROK has identified as its priority and to further explore means to enhance cooperation such as Human Resources Development, Green Growth Economy, Labour Development, Smart Agriculture, Water Resources Management, and Climate Change (3) supporting the role of the private sector through the Mekong-ROK Business Forum, and (4) supporting sustainable peace processes in the Korean Peninsula. The meeting also adopted the Co-Chairs’ Statement of the 9th Mekong – ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
      In this occasion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand commended the ROK and emphasised that the New Southern Policy complements the ROK’s role as a development partner of ACMECS. He also pledged Thailand’s commitment to support the trilateral cooperation between TICA and KOICA to promote SDGs. Furthermore, the Minister of Foreign Affairs also expressed Thailand’s readiness to co-chair with the ROK the inaugural Summit in late November 2019.
 
The 12th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
      The 12th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting agreed to continue cooperation under the three pillars of the Tokyo Strategy 2018; namely (1) Vibrant and Effective Connectivity with the focus on quality infrastructure development (2) Realisation of a Green Mekong by supporting the drafting of “Mekong-Japan Initiative for SDGs toward 2030” to be adopted at the 11th Mekong Japan Summit in November 2019 (3) People-Cantered Society. The Meeting welcomed activities organised to celebrate “Mekong Japan Exchange Year 2019” and agreed to further promote tourism promotion. The Meeting also adopted the Co-Chair’s Statement of the 12th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The ministers of the Mekong-Japan Member States also agreed to align Mekong Japan Cooperation with Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” which is in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, as well as the ACMECS Master Plan (2017-2023). In this connection, the meeting welcomed Japan as a Development Partner of ACMECS. 
      The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand emphasised the role of Thailand as a development partner and emerging donor, that is ready to cooperate with Japan in promoting sustainable development in the Mekong sub-region, especially in the areas of multidimensional connectivity and the co-hosting of the Green Mekong Forum (whose name will be changed to “Mekong Japan SDGs Forum” in 2019) to promote the exchange of experiences and best practices on environmental issues and sustainable development.  The minister also welcomed Japan as a Development Partner of ACMECS. This is a welcome expansion of the framework partnership and consistent with Thailand’s policy to promote the synergy and complementarity between ACMECS and Mekong-Japan Cooperation.