The U.S. will give priority to promoting cooperation with the Lower Mekong basin through its continued efforts to boost the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), a US official said.
U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun made the statement at a seminar that discussed measures to expand cooperation under the LMI framework in Washington DC on Wednesday.
Jointly organized by the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and the US State Department, the seminar was attended by officials from the Departments of Energy and Trade, USAID, the Ambassadors of ASEAN countries to the US, and the US’s Exim Bank.
Joseph highly appreciated Vietnam’s role, including the efforts of the Vietnamese Embassy in the US, in stepping up the implementation of the initiative, which was initiated in 2009 by U.S. President Barrack Obama and former State Secretary Hilary Clinton.
Initially LMI covered Laos, Cambodia Thailand and Vietnam, and it last year included Myanmar.
Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh recognized the LMI to be an important effort in U.S.-ASEAN relations, while Joseph said LMI plays an important role in the US’s policy to restore balance in Asia.
The initiative comprises projects in the fields of education, food, healthcare, and energy security.
Joseph said U.S. State Secretary John Kerry will hold a ministerial meeting with the Lower Mekong countries during his visit to the Asia-Pacific scheduled in June.
Within the next three years the US will spend U.S.$50 million on performing its role and providing assistance to the region, the official said.
Covering an area of 600,000 square kilometers, the Lower Mekong basin is home to 60 million people, including 19 million in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta.