The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic hosted over 90 delegates from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, the United States and the ASEAN Secretariat on March 20-21, 2014 for the 6th Lower Mekong Initiative Regional Working Group Meeting.  The Lower Mekong Initiative is a multinational forum for addressing trans-boundary policy and development challenges in the pillar areas of Agriculture and Food Security, Connectivity, Education, Energy Security, Environment and Water, and Health, and cross-cutting issues such as gender. 

During the opening session, Vice Foreign Minister Bounkeut Sangsomsak and United States Ambassador Daniel Clune discussed the importance of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) to all countries in the region.  Ambassador Clune noted that as economic growth propels LMI nations forward, cooperation and collaboration on issues like climate change, public health and energy security is essential.  He confirmed the United States is committed to utilizing its expertise and experience to support LMI countries, especially as they move towards realizing the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

The United States and Lao PDR collaborate on a variety of programs through LMI, including English Language for Specialized Purposes classes to improve English for Lao officials, and the Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong program, which helps ensure the sustainable development of hydropower.

During the meeting, delegates exchanged ideas for narrowing the development gap in ASEAN and accelerating economic integration.  They also sought ways to strengthen cooperation between the six countries in order to develop in a more efficient, well-governed, and sustainable manner.

Source: U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Laos