On August 3, 2018, the Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR, the Permanent Representative to ASEAN of Myanmar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, the U.S. Secretary of State, and the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN met in Singapore for the Eleventh Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting. The Foreign Ministers of the Mekong partner countries welcomed Secretary Pompeo as the chair of his first LMI Foreign Ministers Meeting, and applauded the LMI’s collaborative process in developing cross-border and integrated initiatives to promote regional policy and solutions to address trans-boundary development challenges.

The Secretary and the Foreign Ministers re-affirmed their commitment to the development of LMI and emphasized the importance of the LMI as a key driver of connectivity, economic integration, sustainable development, and good governance in the Lower Mekong sub-region. The Foreign Ministers commended the LMI’s forward-looking vision for prioritizing women’s empowerment across all lines of effort, and taking an integrated approach to enhancing water, energy, food security, and addressing environmental challenges in the region. The Secretary and Foreign Ministers also praised engagement of the Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM), and that donor grouping’s work under the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership, building capacity in LMI governments to develop socially and environmentally sound infrastructure and strengthening regional policy-making practices.

The Secretary and the Foreign Ministers approved a joint plan to update and streamline the LMI to be more dynamic in responding to the sub-region’s needs by combining previous work streams into two inclusive pillars: 1) the Water, Energy, Food, and Environment Nexus; and 2) Human Development and Connectivity (which will include but is not limited to activities related to connectivity, health, and education). Member countries will integrate the themes of gender equality and women’s empowerment, connectivity, and public-private partnership across all LMI activities.

The Foreign Ministers also applauded the progress of the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI). Since its inception in 2017, MWDI has sparked collaborative efforts among the Lower Mekong countries, donors, the Mekong River Commission, and other stakeholders to improve the management and sharing of water resources data among the Lower Mekong partner countries. Ministers affirmed that prudent and collaborative stewardship of the Mekong is fundamental to the LMI countries’ long-term economic success and human development. The Ministers urged continued advancement of a shared vision and strategic framework, through regional cooperation and collective efforts, for improved water resources management led by riparian member countries, and a framework to modernize national and regional capacities for water data collection, access, analysis, and application.

The Ministers also welcomed significant progress in the training of 182 government, university, non-profit, and industry professionals in the development of national and regional One Health networks – a key step towards combatting antimicrobial resistance and lowering the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Additionally, the Ministers praised the continued progress in the LMI partnership to share cutting-edge educational approaches and technologies, which has better prepared over 44,000 youth for the 21st century workplace.

The Foreign Ministers endorsed the updated Master Plan of Action to Implement the Lower Mekong Initiative 2016-2020. Reviewing the progress from the May 2018 Regional Working Group in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, the Ministers instructed their respective staffs to implement proposals faithfully under the new pillars to achieve sustainable development, and contribute to ASEAN Community building.

Heads of Delegation:

  1. H.E. Sok Siphana, Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kingdom of Cambodia
  2. H.E. Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  3. H.E. U Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for International Cooperation, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
  4. H.E. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand
  5. H.E. Michael Pompeo, Secretary of State, United States of America
  6. H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
  7. H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN

Link: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/08/284928.htm