India, Mekong region countries agree to revitalize, expand cooperation

New Delhi, September 4, 2012

India and other member-countries of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) initiative today agreed to revitalize the forum by expanding their partnership to new areas of collaboration.

"In our view, the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation has important relevance to the growth and shared prosperity in Asia. We are confident that this new direction and energy infused into the forum today will help realize the great promise within the MGC," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told journalists here after the Sixth Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting.
"Our unanimous decision to henceforth meet on an annual basis is indicative of our recognition of the tremendous potential for future cooperation in this forum," he said.
The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) was launched on November 10, 2000 in Vientiane, Laos setting out a vision for cooperation amongst India and the five Mekong region countries - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. 
The forum is aimed at building cooperation in the region defined by two great rivers, the Mekong and the Ganga.
"It is a forum unique in its civilizational foundation. It also a forum, which has tremendous potential to become a powerful catalyst for socio-economic development in the region," Mr Krishna said.
Ahead of the Ministerial Meeting, senior officials of these countries had met here yesterday and held detailed discussions on MGC.
Mr Krishna said that, In addition to the existing four areas of collaboration under the MGC --  culture, tourism, human resource development & education, and transport & communication -- the meeting had identified various new areas for cooperation. 
These include health research relevant to the region and sharing of expertise on pandemic management, he said.
"The economies of India and the five countries in the Mekong region depend heavily on micro, small and medium enterprises. We have, therefore, discussed various ways of bringing together the complementarities that exist in micro, small and medium enterprises in our countries,"  he said.
"We have also focused on aspects related to food security and the responsibility to future generations in terms of protecting the rich bio-diversity of our region. Our officials will establish more intensive channels of communication to be able to show progress in these areas before our next meeting," he said.
Mr Krishna said the countries would intensify their collaboration for human resource development and education. 
"Connectivity from Vietnam to India is a strategic priority for all of us and we have asked our Senior Officials to work towards specific projects," he said.
He said the officials had been tasked to accelerate action at national levels in setting up the Museum of Traditional Asian Textiles, which has been constructed by India in Siem Reap. 
"We have suggested that the Museum develop a dynamic character by integrating a Textiles Centre and also showcasing performing arts, which are intrinsically linked to our textile traditions," he said.
Mr Krishna said India had announced an annual commitment of $ 1 million for the India-Cambodia-Laos–Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Quick Impact Projects Revolving Fund. This will be towards projects with short gestation and immediate benefit at a community level in the CLMV countries. 
He said Laos had agreed to chair the next MGC Ministerial Meeting.

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