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US renews funding for SEA nations

US renews funding for SEA nations

A joint statement from Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, his counterparts from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, and US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new “master plan” for the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), a US development program in Southeast Asia.

According to the statement, the program will enter a new phase running until 2020, having seen investment of “over $100 million” from the US between 2009 and 2015.

Speaking at the ASEAN Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, Kerry lauded the group’s progress in lifting the local economy and narrowing the develop-ment gap between Lower Mekong countries.

While details are not yet available, the statement said it covers the initiative’s “six pillar areas”: agriculture and food security, connectivity, education, energy security, environment and water, and health.

Representatives from all six countries also released a separate declaration on sustainable development for the region, calling it a“valuable blueprint for safeguarding the Mekong’s fragile ecosystems”.

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