On August 5, Secretary Blinken chaired the tenth anniversary meeting of the Friends of the Mekong ministerial. The Secretary congratulated the group on its sustained support to the Mekong subregion and its commitment to transparency, good governance, and inclusive economic growth. Friends of the Mekong countries and institutions have provided over $25 billion in development assistance to the Mekong subregion since 2015. The Secretary emphasized U.S. efforts in support of a resilient, secure, open, and interconnected Mekong subregion through the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and highlighted the importance of the Mekong River basin to ASEAN prosperity and the principles in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
The 14 participating countries and institutions discussed efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic; advance economic recovery; develop human capital; and support sustainable water, natural resource management, and environmental protection, especially the role of the treaty-based Mekong River Commission (MRC). The Friends welcomed the MRC Secretariat as the newest member of the group.
Secretary Blinken urged the Friends of the Mekong to take immediate action to hold the Burmese military regime accountable to the ASEAN five-point consensus. He called for joint action to press the Burmese military regime to end the violence, release those unjustly detained, and restore Burma to the path to democracy.
The Friends of the Mekong include the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Australia, the EU, Republic of Korea, Japan, New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Mekong River Commission Secretariat. The ASEAN Secretariat, India, and the UK participated as observers.
For more information on the Friends of the Mekong and the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, please visit MekongUSPartnership.org.