Vientiane, Lao PDR, 09 May 2018
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 9 May 2018 – Cooperating with Mekong-Lancang Cooperation framework, re-establishing a cooperation framework with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and reviving collaboration with Greater Mekong Sub-region were among key topics the Mekong River Commission’s Expert Group on Strategy and Partnership discussed yesterday during its kick-off meeting in Vientiane.
The discussions on these topics are part of the MRC’s effort in helping its Member Countries to strengthen ties with regional and international partners working on Mekong affairs.
“We need to grow and augment our partnership with all relevant Mekong cooperation frameworks and initiatives. We welcome a partnership with a genuine win-win intention that lends us a far-reaching contribution to our people and society,” MRC CEO Pham Tuan Phan addressed the meeting.
The call from the MRC Secretariat’s top official corroborates with what the Chinese Minister of Water Resources, E Jingping, and Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, Hoang Anh Tuan, expressed at the recent MRC Summit.
“China is willing to work with the MRC and all riparian countries under the existing cooperation mechanisms,” E Jingping said, adding that his country is willing to continue practical cooperation with the MRC and welcomes the MRC and its Secretariat to play a constructive role in Mekong Lancang Cooperation.
“ASEAN welcomes the interest of MRC to deepen cooperation with the organisation,” Hoang Anh Tuan said, who outlined three areas of cooperation, including regular exchange of information between the two Secretariats, coordination among development partners, and alignment of sub-regional commitments with regional commitments.
The Expert Group on Strategy and Partnership is composed of 24 representatives from the four Member Countries who are officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the National Mekong Committee Secretariats, and departments dealing with international cooperation and planning of other relevant line ministries, such as natural and water resources, energy, and planning and investment. Representatives from the MRC Dialogue Partners – China and Myanmar – and from regional organisations will be invited to participate in the Expert Group’s meetings in the future based on the agenda.
The Group has three primary functions.
First, it provides strategic and diplomatic advice and recommendations on complex transboundary water management issues to the policy making body of the MRC – the Joint Committee and Council. Second, it offers input to the review and preparation of MRC Strategic Plan and other strategies from strategic, cooperation and partnership perspectives. Third, it assists the Commission in enhancing and maintaining partnerships and international cooperation, including joint activities, information sharing mechanisms and prevention of duplication of activities, with other Mekong-related regional frameworks and initiatives with the aim of strengthening MRC’s role and work.
This Expert Group on Strategy and Partnership, together with three other groups that were established last year by the MRC Joint Committee, replaces the Commission’s former steering committees, advisory bodies and working groups who guided programmes and projects.
Chairman of the Expert Group for 2018, Mr. Kanya Khamounkhoun, who is also Deputy Director General of the Department of International Organisations of the Lao Ministry for Foreign Affairs, highlighted that the expert group mechanism is part of the MRC’s reform to strengthen country’s ownership and relevant line agencies’ regular involvement in MRC’s work.
At the meeting, members from all countries expressed their willingness to support the promotion of MRC’s work in all relevant Mekong related cooperation mechanisms.
The Expert Group on Strategy and Partnership will hold its next meeting later in the year.
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