JAKARTA, Indonesia

Strengthening cooperation and increasing connectivity were among the decisions taken at the 12th Mekong-Japan Summit on Friday, local media reported.

The summit is a cooperation mechanism between Japan and the five Mekong countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

This year’s edition was hosted online by Vietnam.

The leaders noted that the world and the Mekong region continue to face a raft of challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and geopolitical instability, daily Viet Nam News reported.

They agreed on the need for joint efforts to combat the pandemic and boost economic recovery.

The leaders lauded the initiatives proposed by Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga, including Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening cooperation on regional supply chains, and enhancing capacity of a number of specialized sectors, the report said.

They said economic development should go in hand with environmental protection, stressing the importance of climate change adaptation measures and managing the Mekong River’s water in a sustainable way.

In his address, Suga said the Mekong area was at the center of the Asia-Pacific region.

“Japan will propose concrete measures for the Mekong region so that we can work together for regional peace and prosperity. By doing so, I am confident that our bonds will become even stronger,” the daily quoted Suga as saying.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Mekong countries and Japan had worked together to overcome the 2008 financial crisis and have managed to boost economic growth over the past decade.

“Through Mekong-Japan cooperation, hundreds of projects have been rolled out in different fields, significantly contributing to socioeconomic development of Mekong countries and progress towards the ASEAN Community Vision 2025,” he said.

Urgent tasks to be tackled through Mekong-Japan cooperation include controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and gradually resuming production and business activities in a new normal environment, he added.

‘South Korea to support Mekong countries’

South Korea will provide $10 million to developing countries to ensure that residents of the Mekong countries can access any vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX), according to Viet Nam News.

COVAX is a multilateral platform designed to fund coronavirus vaccine distribution to developing countries.

“Through the pandemic, South Korea and the Mekong countries have maintained their friendship and trust by providing test kits, sharing experience in disease control, and building medical capacity,” South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said.

He said South Korea will push for a bilateral project aimed at preserving the Mekong River’s ecology, managing its water, and mitigating risk of natural disasters.

Seoul will also seek to involve international organizations, including the UN, in the project, he added.

* Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian-language service in Jakarta

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