Senior officials attend the 8th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation SOM (Source: VNA)
New Delhi (VNA) – The eighth Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) was held in New Delhi, India on April 7.

The MGC is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.

It was launched in 2000 in Vientiane, Laos. Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilisational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting in the two major river basins.

The meeting focused on reviewing the implementation of the Plan of Action proposed during the previous MGC SOM in Vientiane in July 2016 as well as the achievements the two sides have made in main cooperation fields, including culture, tourism, education, health and agriculture.

Delegates highly valued the implementation of cooperation projects among MGC countries supported by India, including the building of the Asian traditional textile museum in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and a data centre at India’s Nalanda University. 

They agreed to carry out specific collaboration projects such as the establishment of working groups, human resources training and tourism promotion.

Together with existing scholarships, India vowed to present 15 more scholarships to Mekong countries on new areas.

At the meeting, Assistance to Foreign Minister Vu Quang Minh, head of the Vietnamese delegation, proposed several ideas to improve the effectiveness of the Mekong-Ganga cooperation, including encouraging the involvement of the private sector in cooperation projects, diversifying beneficiaries of the MGC scholarship programme, and strengthening cooperation in India’s strong fields like science-technology, education and human resources development.

The senior officials agreed to organise the 8th MGC Ministerial Meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting to be held in the Philippines in August.-VNA