Following is the text of a joint statement by the United States, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam issued on July 22, 2010, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Last year, the Foreign Ministers of the Lower Mekong countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam - and the U.S. Secretary of State established the Lower Mekong Initiative as a vehicle for addressing regional challenges, particularly in the areas of environment, health, education, and infrastructure. Since then, the five countries have sought to strengthen cooperation in these areas and build on their common interests. The second U.S.-Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting, which convened in Hanoi today, was an opportunity to take stock of progress over the last year and reaffirm the importance of close cooperation between the United States and the countries of the Lower Mekong region in support of sustainable and environmentally-responsible growth.
The Ministers witnessed the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for a “sister river” partnership between the Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission. This MOU will allow the commissions to conduct expert exchanges, share expertise and best practices in areas of climate change adaptation, flood and drought management, hydropower impact assessments, water resource management, and food security.
The Ministers welcomed the achievements of the “Lower Mekong Initiative Conference, Transnational Cooperation to Respond to Infectious Disease Threats.” The conference, which was held in Hanoi June 17-18, encouraged greater science engagement to strengthen regional health systems, including preparing for pandemic response, combating counterfeit and substandard medicines, and forging better research cooperation among LMI countries and the United States.
The Ministers welcomed the ongoing work of the U.S. Geological Survey, in partnership with local governments and universities in the Mekong region, to strengthen networks that support innovative strategies to adapt to our changing environment. Tools being used in this effort include Forecast Mekong, a data and analysis framework to monitor ecosystems and forecast the consequences of climate change and development, and a coastal vulnerability assessment which measures susceptibility to sea-level rise.
The United States looks forward to working with the four Lower Mekong countries to initiate a program targeting Emerging Pandemic Threats in the region. The United States will also launch a three-year program to assist the four Lower Mekong countries in developing cooperative strategies to address the impact of climate change on water resources, food security and livelihood. The Ministers also noted the benefits of using existing regional capacity and expertise to complement Lower Mekong Initiative programs.
The Ministers believe that the Lower Mekong Initiative is an important vehicle for furthering regional cooperation in addressing some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. The Ministers expressed their desire to continue education, environmental and health programs and to initiate infrastructure programs. The Ministers agreed to continue this effort through senior officials’ meetings, additional consultations and targeted program activities. The Ministers agreed that working level groups should be established to enhance the cooperation and they looked forward to the convening of the third U.S. -Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting in 2011.
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