The US will prioritise stepping up its cooperation with the Lower
Mekong basin region in the coming time, committing to continued efforts
to push the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI).
US Acting Assistant
Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun was addressing a
seminar that sought ways to broaden cooperation in the framework of LMI
in Washington DC on May 1.
co-organised by the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and the US State
Department, brought together officials from the Departments of Energy
and Trade, USAID, and Exim Bank, the Ambassadors of ASEAN to the US and
Joseph Yun said LMI plays an important
role in his country’s policy to restore balance in Asia while
Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh recognised the
increasingly diversified and expanded LMI as an important effort in
The US official spoke of
Vietnam’s role, including the part held the Vietnamese Embassy in the
US , in accelerating the initiative, noting that his country is
pleased with the initiative’s starting phase.
Initiated in 2009
by US President Barrack Obama and former State Secretary Hilary
Clinton, LMI initially covered Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and
Thailand and later included Myanmar in 2012.
Projects under the initiative are involved the fields of community healthcare, education, food and energy security.
US has in recent time coordinated in carrying out projects to
assess water resource use, build hydro-electricity plants, mitigate
flood consequences, combat malaria and improve English training in the
On the sidelines of the seminar, Joseph Yun
told the Washington-based Vietnam News Agency correspondent that the US
State Department has, in its budget plan submitted to Congress, outlined
an increase of 7.5 percent in funding for assistance programmes in
Southeast Asia while decreased the source for other parts in the world.
He said US State Secretary John Kerry will hold a
ministerial meeting with the Lower Mekong countries in his coming
visit to the Asia-Pacific in June.
The official estimated that
the US would spend 50 million USD performing its role and providing
assistance to the region within the next three years.
Some participants noted that LMI is somewhat challenged by a degree of
interest of the sub-region countries as their benefits, in particular
food and energy security, are varied, citing the construction of dams on
the Mekong River to support their view.
The Lower Mekong basin
covers an area of 600,000 square kilometres where 60 million people are
living, including 19 million in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta of