Press Release of Lower Mekong Initiative Second Regional Working Group Meeting
Joint Press Release
The Lao PDR and the United States
on behalf of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) partner countries
Vientiane, Lao PDR
November 8, 2011
LOWER MEKONG INITIATIVE SECOND REGIONAL WORKING GROUP MEETING IN VIENTIANE ADVANCES REGIONAL GOALS FOR CAMBODIA, LAO PDR, THAILAND, VIETNAM, AND THE UNITED STATES
The Lao PDR hosted delegations from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States for the November 7-8 regional working group meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI). The senior- level delegations comprised diplomats and officials from the participating nations, including representatives of such ministries/departments as foreign affairs, education, environment, public health, development, public works and transport, economic affairs, agriculture, labor, and energy. The Lower Mekong Initiative brings the five nations together to build regional cooperation and capacity in the areas of education, environment, public health, and infrastructure.
The Lao PDR and the United States co-chaired the two-day meeting, which reviewed progress on joint goals since the Bali July 2011 LMI Ministerial and developed plans for future cooperation among the five countries, advancing the work of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterparts from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Specific projects discussed during the LMI meeting in Vientiane included a professional English course designed to improve the ability of Lower Mekong sub-region officials to communicate in international conferences; a project that provides visualization and mapping tools, data integration, and training for scientists of the Lower Mekong sub-region; collaboration on fighting the trafficking of endangered species; an information center to monitor changes in forest coverage; fighting counterfeit and substandard medications; efforts to advance the use of clean cookstoves; and a best practices workshop on infrastructure development.
Co-chair Patrick Murphy, head of the U.S. delegation and Director of the Office of Mainland Southeast Asia at the U.S. Department of State remarked, “This week’s meeting moves the Lower Mekong Initiative into a more sophisticated dialogue among the five partner countries about avenues for even more meaningful cooperation on the emerging issues that affect the region as a whole. The United States is pleased to have this useful forum for working with our friends in the Lower Mekong region.”
Co-chair Thongphane Savanphet, head of the Lao delegation and Director General of the Department of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted, “The meeting provides a good opportunity for the five LMI partner countries to review the progress made since the 4th LMI Ministerial Meeting in Bali in July 2011 and to discuss ways to move the Plan of Action into concrete cooperation activities.”
Plans are being developed for a third LMI regional working group meeting in Thailand which will take place before the next LMI Ministerial, planned for July 2012 in Cambodia.