Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Keshap provided opening remarks at the 2021 Friends of the Mekong Policy Dialogue on January 12, 2021.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell published an article titled "Why the Mekong Region Matters to the United States, ASEAN, and the Indo-Pacific" in the Cambodia Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) Journal of Greater Mekong Studies.
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.
Now more than ever, the United States sees the importance of a partnership with the Mekong Region. Perhaps the best example of that is the new Mekong-U.S. Partnership, which was launched in 2020 as a successor to the Lower Mekong Initiative. This partnership – with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the ASEAN Secretariat – aims to improve lives in the Mekong Region by spurring economic growth, improving natural resource management, and tackling transnational crime. “We are open to working with all partners who shared our principled, transparent approach,” said Melissa A. Brown, Head of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN. Watch this video to learn more:
The Mekong-U.S. Partnership expands cooperation between the United States and the countries of the Mekong region.
The United States and Mekong Partner countries released a Joint Statement on the launch of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership.
From 2017-2019, World Education Laos managed a Women's Entrepreneurship Center in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The center hosted trainings on small business management, access to finance, online marketing, and basic English for business. Additionally, the center provided vocational trainings on becoming a tailor, hairdressing, weaving, and natural dyes. This WEC was established in the spirit of similar centers funded by the LMI in Cambodia and Viet Nam, and others started with support from the Department of State in Islamabad, Kenya, Zambia, and Mali.