The Foreign Ministers of the Lower Mekong Countries and the U.S. Secretary of State, met at the Sixth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan on 1 July 2013.  The meeting was also attended for the first time by H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

The Ministers discussed the several challenges facing the Lower Mekong Countries, and agreed to strengthen the cooperation to further promote and accelerate economic growth, and prosperity in the sub-region.

The Ministers also affirmed the importance of closely aligning the LMI with the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), recognizing that both initiatives share similar goals and areas of engagement, particularly in accelerating the economic integration of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam into ASEAN.  The collaboration with ASEAN is to support the Lower Mekong Countries in achieving the ASEAN Community in 2015.

At the meeting, the Ministers also launched the establishment of the Eminent and Expert Persons Group for the Lower Mekong Initiative, to develop the strategic direction of the cooperation.

The Ministers were later joined by their counterparts from Australia, the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and senior representatives from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, at the Third Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting.  The partners agreed to work with the Lower Mekong Countries to achieve sustainable growth, and narrowing the development divide, to contribute to ASEAN community building and integration.  The partners also agreed to enhance coordination in the sub-region, to improve delivery of activities, and to identify potential collaborations.

The LMI was launched in 2009.  It is a US-led partnership with the five Lower Mekong countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.  The LMI serves as a platform to address transnational development and policy challenges in the six pillars of Agriculture and Food Security; Connectivity; Education; Energy Security; Environment and Water; and Health, and in cross-cutting areas such as gender issues.

Source: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

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