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Mekong nations agree to boost cooperation

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A daily life at Mekong river. Pha Lina

Mekong nations agree to boost cooperation

Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong joined five regional counterparts at the 4th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Laos on Sunday and Monday, a meeting in which 19 Cambodian projects were approved with a budget of $8 million.

“Most of the projects cover activities related to capacity building, research, education and exchange programmes,” the deputy minister said.

Hor Namhong led a government delegation to the foreign ministerial level summit co-chaired by Laos and China in Luang Prabang in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The MLC, which held its first summit in 2016 and is made up of Mekong region nations Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, released a joint communique outlining the progress made this year in implementing its five-year plan for 2018-2022.

The ministry said 16 projects in Cambodia were approved last year, with a budget of $7 million. Two have been completed while the other 14 projects were still ongoing.

The Mekong-Lancang region boasts a total population of more than 1.6 billion. The MLC says it aims to boost its members’ economic and social development, improve the wellbeing of its people, narrow the development gap among regional countries, and supporting the wider Asean community.

It also plans to promote the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ministry said agreed at the meeting was an initiative to promote the merging of national development strategies, as well as to hold discussions aimed at achieving a common “Economic Development Belt of the MLC”.

The meeting also focused on production capacity through cooperation within the MLC, the creation of special economic zones and power markets, and the push for greater cooperation between the six member nations.

“It is very helpful to share future cultural and economic cooperation among our six countries, which need to deepen their partnerships. I hope the discussion will advance our development,” said China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi who co-chaired the meeting, the Vientiane Times reported.

Laos is currently undertaking 13 cooperation projects valued at over $3.4 million with MLC funding.

The ministry said Hor Namhong also held a bilateral meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to discuss and exchange ideas on strengthening their strategic comprehensive cooperation partnership, high-level visits and other efforts to strengthen mutual friendship, peace and prosperity.

Laos will host the third biannual Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit in 2020 after Cambodia hosted the second edition in January, the Times reported.

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