First Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting held virtually hinh anh 1Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh co-chairs the first Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The first Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting was held virtually on September 11 under the co-chair of Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun (on behalf of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo).

The meeting also saw the participation of the Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, and the ASEAN Secretary-General.

The meeting officially announced the upgrade of cooperation to the Mekong-US Partnership (MUSP) based on the successes of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) established in 2009, laying a foundation for upholding potential of the partnership and effectively contributing to the sustainable development and prosperity in the region in the new period.

It affirmed the good friendship and successes of cooperation between the Mekong nations and the US in sustainable management of water sources, environmental protection, response to natural disasters, healthcare, education and regional connectivity.

For cooperation orientations in the upcoming time, the ministers held that amid challenges and opportunities the Mekong Sub-region is facing, the Mekong-US partnership should focus on the target of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region and supporting the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

Regarding the principles of cooperation, the ministers affirmed that the Mekong-US partnership needs to heighten the principles of ASEAN as the centre, openness, equality, consensus, mutual benefit, transparency, respect for the nations’ sovereignty, non-interference, and respect for international law as well as regulations and laws of the member countries.

The meeting also agreed to increase support and coordination with ASEAN and existing Mekong cooperation frameworks. The ministers emphasised the importance of sub-regional development to the ASEAN Community building process and welcomed the efforts to enhance cohesion between sub-regional cooperation and ASEAN.

On the fields of cooperation, the ministers agreed that the Mekong-US partnership will focus on four major spheres: economic connectivity; sustainable management of water sources, natural resources and environmental protection; non-traditional security; and human resources development.

Speaking at the event, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh applauded the LMI’s contributions to promoting sustainable development and building the ASEAN Community. He affirmed Vietnam’s commitment to cooperation between the Mekong nations and the US.

As ASEAN is entering a new period of building the Community, the Mekong-US partnership is likely to contribute further to the sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region, helping the regional nations to narrow the development gap, seize new opportunities and overcome challenges, he said.

For development orientations, Minh held that the Mekong-US partnership should closely follow the agreed common principles, towards assisting the nations in seeking solutions to development needs and ensuring interests of all members.

Priority should be given to the cooperation fields that support economic growth and increase the participation of businesses, especially high-quality infrastructure development, management of Mekong water sources, and response to natural disasters and pandemics.

At the meeting, the US Department of State announced that the US will earmark nearly 153.6 million USD for cooperation projects in the Mekong region, including 55 million USD for transnational crime prevention and control projects and 1.8 million USD for the Mekong River Commission to step up the sharing of water sources data to serve policy making and natural disaster management projects./.