Representatives from Cambodia Laos, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam took part in the March 17-18 Lower Mekong Initiative Working group meeting which was hosted by Cambodia in Phnom Penh. Delegations from the five nations worked together to further advance regional cooperation in education, environment, health and infrastructure, in order to formulate a draft LMI Plan of Action.
The heads of delegations were: Mrs. Tuot Panha, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Cambodia); Mr. Latsamy Keomany, Director General, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Laos); Mr. Surasak Chuasukonthip, Deputy Director General, Department of International Economic Affairs (Thailand); Mr. Joseph Yun, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of State (United States); and Mr. Ha Huy Thong, Director General, Dept of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Vietnam).
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Tuot Panha stressed the importance of cooperation between the United States and the Lower Mekong countries, and on behalf of the Lower Mekong countries, expressed her high appreciation to the US for its assistance to the Lower Mekong region which reflects its commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Mekong sub-region and in ASEAN as a whole.
The participants concluded that the draft Plan of Action is comprehensive and covers all aspects and activities for the implementation of the four broad areas of focus, or “pillars”—Health, Infrastructure, Education and Environment. The Co-Chairs of each of the Four Pillars Working Group briefed the Meeting on the results of their discussions on the draft Plans of Action in their respective pillars (Cambodia: Health, Laos: Infrastructure, Thailand: Education, Vietnam: Environment. The participants recognized the important role of NGOs and other development partners to participate in the implementation of the LMI Plan of action, and it also agreed to develop Public-Private Partnerships within each pillar to enhance program sustainability.
The meeting participants agreed to submit the draft LMI Plan of Action to the LMI Foreign Ministers for adoption at the LMI Ministerial Meeting to be held in July 2011 in Indonesia.