On January 12, the United States and Vietnam co-hosted the first Friends of the Mekong Policy Dialogue under the new Mekong-U.S. Partnership. In his remarks, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Atul Keshap emphasized that the United States is committed to a secure, open, and prosperous Mekong region, highlighting the importance of this region to ASEAN centrality and to the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. The 17 participating countries and institutions under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and the Friends of the Mekong offered recommendations on sustainable infrastructure development and connectivity; human resource development and building the foundations for a Mekong digital economy; sustainable water, natural resource management, and environmental protection; and COVID response and regional collaboration on health security.
Implemented by Arizona State University’s School of Engineering 2018-2020, the program supports 35 young scientists per year from the LMI countries to foster and promote scientific collaboration, knowledge sharing on science and technology best practices, and research ideas. Participants develop cross-border research groups to respond to immediate challenges and develop prototypes and action plans to address issues where they want to make a difference. In 2019, the young scientists are working on informatics solutions to vector borne disease risks – prompted by the outcomes of the 2018 LMI Information Sharing Program on vector-borne diseases. The 2020 theme is innovation.