Lao Foreign Affairs minister reaffirms support for MRC, commitment to 1995 Mekong Agreement
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 9 February 2022 — The Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs has urged the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to continue maintaining its impartial role and facilitating implementation of the Mekong Agreement in an important message of support for this intergovernmental river basin organization.
The comments came during a courtesy call – the first ever between an MRC Secretariat CEO and a Minister of Foreign Affairs – by the MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer Anoulak Kittikhoun on Minister Saleumxay Kommasith on Tuesday (8 February).
During the meeting, Minister Saleumxay said that to ensure sustainable development and maintain cooperation, the 1995 Mekong Agreement and MRC’s official prior consultation process should be the basis for Member Countries and stakeholders to voice concerns and address critical issues together based on facts, but not the right to veto.
“Dialogue and mutual understanding between Lao PDR and other countries and stakeholders is extremely critical for an economically prosperous and environmentally sound Mekong region,” Minister Saleumxay said. The MRC, he said, has played a vital role in supporting socio-economic development of Lao PDR and other Member Countries: Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Welcoming the first CEO of the MRC Secretariat from Lao PDR, the Minister added it was important for the MRC to maintain its strong reputation and services to the Mekong countries and the confidence and support of all partners.
Dr Anoulak told the Minister that the Secretariat would continue to render technical support to the Member Countries, facilitate discussions by all parties and broaden MRC cooperation with others, including with upstream countries, China and Myanmar.
“The MRC is deepening and extending its partnerships to ensure our collective efforts benefit the peoples that depend on the Mekong River Basin amid unprecedented challenges arising from climate change and shifts in flows.”
The CEO has recently met Madame Bounkham Vorachit, Lao Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, who is the MRC Council Member for Lao PDR, and Dr Daovong Phonekeo, Lao Minister of Energy and Mines. Beginning next week, he is due to meet other members and officials of Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam.
During early days in office, it is customary for the MRC Secretariat CEO to make courtesy calls upon MRC Joint Committee and Council Members, often Ministers of Environment and Water Resources in order to set a common vision for the organization. Additionally, the CEO is expected to meet with other stakeholders including members of the diplomatic corps.
Note to editors:
The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernmental organization established in 1995 for regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River Basin. Based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, the Commission serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.