First Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting held virtually
The first Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting was held virtually on September 11 under the co-chair of Vietnamese Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun
(on behalf of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo).
Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh co-chairs the first Mekong-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting (Photo: VNA)
The meeting also saw the participation of the Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, and the ASEAN Secretary-General.
The meeting officially announced the upgrade of cooperation to the Mekong-US Partnership (MUSP) based on the successes of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) established in 2009, laying a foundation for upholding potential of the partnership and effectively contributing to the sustainable development and prosperity in the region in the new period.
It affirmed the good friendship and successes of cooperation between the Mekong nations and the US in sustainable management of water sources, environmental protection, response to natural disasters, healthcare, education and regional connectivity.
For cooperation orientations in the upcoming time, the ministers held that amid challenges and opportunities the Mekong Sub-region is facing, the Mekong-US partnership should focus on the target of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region and supporting the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
Regarding the principles of cooperation, the ministers affirmed that the Mekong-US partnership needs to heighten the principles of ASEAN as the centre, openness, equality, consensus, mutual benefit, transparency, respect for the nations’ sovereignty, non-interference, and respect for international law as well as regulations and laws of the member countries.
The meeting also agreed to increase support and coordination with ASEAN and existing Mekong cooperation frameworks. The ministers emphasised the importance of sub-regional development to the ASEAN Community building process and welcomed the efforts to enhance cohesion between sub-regional cooperation and ASEAN.
On the fields of cooperation, the ministers agreed that the Mekong-US partnership will focus on four major spheres: economic connectivity; sustainable management of water sources, natural resources and environmental protection; non-traditional security; and human resources development.
Speaking at the event, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh applauded the LMI’s contributions to promoting sustainable development and building the ASEAN Community. He affirmed Vietnam’s commitment to cooperation between the Mekong nations and the US.
As ASEAN is entering a new period of building the Community, the Mekong-US partnership is likely to contribute further to the sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region, helping the regional nations to narrow the development gap, seize new opportunities and overcome challenges, he said.
For development orientations, Minh held that the Mekong-US partnership should closely follow the agreed common principles, towards assisting the nations in seeking solutions to development needs and ensuring interests of all members.
Priority should be given to the cooperation fields that support economic growth and increase the participation of businesses, especially high-quality infrastructure development, management of Mekong water sources, and response to natural disasters and pandemics.
At the meeting, the US Department of State announced that the US will earmark nearly 153.6 million USD for cooperation projects in the Mekong region, including 55 million USD for transnational crime prevention and control projects and 1.8 million USD for the Mekong River Commission to step up the sharing of water sources data to serve policy making and natural disaster management projects.
US officials highly evaluate Vietnam's role
US officials spoke highly of Vietnam's role in the world while attending a virtual ceremony held by the Vietnamese Embassy in the US on September 10 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Vietnam's National Day (September 2).
Ivan Kanapathy, vice director of the US National Security Council, acknowledged that Vietnam has successfully assumed the ASEAN Chairmanship amid increasing challenges in security and development.
The US official also highly valued Vietnam’s contributions as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
He voiced his hope that US-Vietnam relations would continue to flourish and welcomed the signing of an agreement on English teaching within the Peace Corps programme on the occasion of the 25th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties, affirming that Vietnam continues to play a central role in the US’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Meanwhile, Congressman Ted Yoho said Vietnam is among those economies worldwide experiencing dynamic development and boasting a friendly investment climate.
He underlined that the development of bilateral ties in numerous fields over time can be attributed to mutual respect. For the US and Vietnam and other ASEAN countries, respect for international law is the most important factor in countries cooperating for shared prosperity.
Images and documentaries featuring Vietnam’s proud achievements in various fields were screened, as well as the country’s efforts to contribute to peace, stability, and cooperation in the region and the world.
Addressing the event, Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc said that the historic moment giving birth to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 75 years ago is a driving force for every Vietnamese to strive for independence, freedom, peace, and friendship with others.
Formerly a colony and country ravaged by war, Vietnam has become a dynamic economy and trusted destination for investment, trade, and tourism.
In 2020, as ASEAN Chair and a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Vietnam has been closely working with partners to sustain peace, security, stability, and a rules-based order in Indo-Pacific Asia and the world.
The country is exerting every effort to build a cohesive and responsive ASEAN, raising the bloc’s central role in the regional infrastructure.
The Vietnamese diplomat affirmed that Vietnam and the US respect shared values of humanity, which are independence and freedom. Since the normalisation of bilateral relations in 1995, the two have overcome challenges and posted remarkable results, he noted.
The comprehensive partnership, based on respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, has blossomed in all spheres and addressed shared challenges in the region and the world.
Artistic programmes featuring traditional Vietnamese musical instruments and artists were also part of the ceremony./.VNA