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Friends Of Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting Endorses New Two Track Structure

The second Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial meeting on Friday in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh endorsed a new two track structure for FLM, which, they emphasized, would complement existing cooperation.

The first track will be a dialogue among partner countries development agencies, and the multilateral development institutions, said a joint statement issued by the foreign minsters after the meeting. It will expand information sharing, support efforts to strengthen partner country ownership of regional assistance program, and encourage emerging supporters of the lower Mekong region to endorse shared principles and standards of results, accountability, and transparency.

The second FLM track is to be a policy dialogue between foreign affairs ministries held annually at the Senior Official, and Ministerial level. As coordination of regional assistance requires the involvement of their respective donor agencies, they should also be party to those discussions. The FLM agenda could be expanded to include discussion of non-traditional security issues which are transnational in nature and affect the stability of the lower Mekong countries, such as environmental degradation, climate change, health risks, infrastructure development, anti-trafficking efforts, and migration, as well as other issues which affect human security.

The Ministers noted that ASEAN's goal of economic and political integration depends on reduction of the development gap among member states. They underscored the importance of encouraging Mekong countries to better integrate their development activities towards inclusive, sustainable, and environmentally-responsible growth.

The Ministers urged the riparian countries of the Mekong River to continue working together to jointly manage the shared water resources of the basin in an open and transparent manner for the benefit of the people.

The Ministers pledged to continue their close collaboration with the Mekong River Commission on these issues and to cooperate in supporting the MRC study on the sustainable management and development of the Mekong River.

The Foreign Ministers and senior representatives of Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the Ministerial Representative of the EU, and a senior representative of the Asian Development Bank joined the U.S. Secretary of State and Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam for the Second Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) Ministerial Meeting.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a fund of $50 million over three years in new assistance programs for "Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) 2020" through the Asia Pacific Security Engagement Initiative (APSEI).

The Lower Mekong Initiative is a multinational effort initiated by Clinton in 2009 to foster integrated sub-regional cooperation and capacity building among Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam, in the areas of education, health, environment, and connectivity.

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