Ambassador attached to the Ministry for Mekong Cooperation delivered keynote address at the Mekong - Republic of Korea (ROK) Regional Forum on the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of the Mekong - ROK Cooperation, stressing Strategic Partnership for Peace, Prosperity, People and Planet for a sustained and comprehensive recovery of the Mekong sub-region.
On 1 October 2021, H.E. Ms. Arunrung Phothong Humphreys, Ambassador attached to the Ministry for Mekong Cooperation, attended the Mekong - ROK Regional Forum "From Cooperation to Strategic Partnership: A Decade of Shared Development for People, Prosperity and Peace" via video conference, co-hosted by the Embassy of the ROK in Thailand and the Mekong Institute.
At the opening session, H.E. Mr. Lee Wook-heon, Ambassador of the ROK to Thailand, stressed that the ROK attached great importance to the Mekong sub-region and ASEAN through the implementation of its New Southern Policy (NSP) and New Southern Policy Plus (NSPP). The ROK wished to continue fostering collaboration with Mekong countries in various areas, such as people-to-people exchanges, capacity building for pandemic response, sustainable development, promotion of regional peace and security, and building synergy between Mekong - ROK and the Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya - Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS). He believed that ACMECS could play a pivotal role in charting the future direction of cooperation and sustainable development in the sub-region since it is driven by member countries which are all five Mekong countries.
Upon the invitation of the organisers, Ambassador Arunrung in her capacity as Thailand's Senior Official for Mekong Cooperation delivered a keynote address to the Regional Forum. She highlighted the milestones of achievements in the first decade of the Mekong - ROK, for instance (1) the First Mekong - ROK Summit in 2019, (2) the elevation of Mekong - ROK to a strategic partnership level at the Second Mekong - ROK Summit in 2020 and (3) the establishment of Mekong - ROK Cooperation Fund (MKCF) to support member countries' development projects as a constructive mechanism to promote sustainability and resilience in the Mekong sub-region. Ambassador Arunrung also emphasised on the importance of strengthening the Strategic Partnership for Peace, Prosperity, People and Planet for a sustained and comprehensive recovery of the sub-region, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the promotion of people's exchanges between Mekong countries and the ROK under the Mekong - ROK Exchange Year 2021 which has been extended to 2022.
Other speakers from the Mekong Institute, Office of the National Water Resources, Chulalongkorn University, Chiang Mai University, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and US Agency for International Development (USAID) spoke about the ROK’s long-standing development cooperation roles in the Mekong sub-region through Mekong - ROK, Official Development Assistance (ODA) and a number of projects by KOICA. As a result, Mekong countries have acknowledged the ROK as a trusted friend of the sub-region. In addition, they agreed that the issues of water management, health security and synergy between Mekong - ROK and other regional development agencies, such as the USAID, should be enhanced for the sub-region's sustainable development.
This Mekong - ROK Regional Forum was a part of activities to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Mekong - ROK, comprising five Mekong countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam and the ROK, as member countries. Currently, guided by the Plan of Action 2021 - 2025, Mekong - ROK consists of three pillars, namely People, Prosperity and Peace, and has seven priority areas, namely (1) Culture and Tourism, (2) Human Resources Development, (3) Agriculture and Rural Development, (4) Infrastructure, (5) Information and Communication Technology,
(6) Environment, and (7) Non-traditional Security Challenges.