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Sokhonn to join first Mekong-US meeting

Ry Sochan / Khmer Times Share:
Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn. Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn is scheduled to attend the first Mekong-US-partnership ministerial meeting today via video conference.

The meeting will be co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

In a statement issued yesterday, the ministry said they will discuss ways in which the Mekong-US partnership can contribute to sustainable development and prosperity.

“The meeting will serve as an opportunity for the Mekong countries and the US to review past achievements and chart the future direction of this partnership,” the statement said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute director Kin Phea told Khmer Times yesterday that LMI mainly focuses on the environment and people’s livelihood in the Mekong region, but this initiative seemed to compete with China’s Lancang Mekong Cooperation.

He said recently there are many media reports of the Chinese hydropower dam affecting the lower Mekong mainstream. The US seemed to bring all the lower Mekong countries to go against this effect, and it is using its diplomatic mechanism to influence Mekong issues.

“Cambodia can benefit from the LMI cooperation because there are many contributors that have the same focus,” he added.

Cambodian Youth Network’s research and advocacy programme manager Sar Mory told Khmer Times yesterday that he did not expect the meeting would encourage sustainable maintenance of the Mekong River, as well as a reduction in hydropower dam construction.

He said: “Using Mekong water resources with equity is not possible because the governments of Cambodia and Laos have already supported the Chinese hydropower dam project, which could cause difficulties amongst the Mekong countries.”

He said the US believes one of the reasons why the Mekong water level is going down is due to hydropower dam construction in China’s upper parts of the Mekong.

At the third Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting on August 24, Prime Minister Hun Sen noted the breakthrough in finding a consensus and dealing with the most sensitive topic of transboundary water management. He said it had been another critical success in Mekong-Lancang countries’ cooperation.

 

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