09/14/2020, 16.47
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Economics and water, Washington forging an alliance with lower Mekong countries

by Ngoc Linh

The US is developing a strategic partnership to counter Beijing's interests, providing more than US$ 150 million to support development projects. The Mekong-US partnership deal is signed on the sidelines of the 53rd meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, plus partners.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The Mekong-US Partnership (MUSP) between the United States and countries in the downstream of Mekong River seeks to promote greater economic ties, better water and natural resource management, more effective health and disaster management, environmental protection, and non-traditional security and human development.

Thanks to the agreement, the six nations of the lower Mekong, a river threatened by China’s mega-dams, will be able to pursue more sustainable development for the region, a Vietnamese expert said.

This is especially true for the 60 million people who live in the region, involved in farming, fishing, livestock, vegetables and tropical plants. The hope is that hunger and water shortages will end.

In addition to the US, the MUSP includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. Representatives from these countries met a few days ago on the sidelines of the 53rd ten-member ASEAN meeting in Hanoi, chaired by Vietnam.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN meeting brought together 27 delegations from four continents, to improve multilateral cooperation.

Friday’s MUSP meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit ended with the United States announcing an assistance programme of US$ 153.6 million to support development projects.

This includes at least US$ 55 million to fight cross-border crime; US$ 1.8 million for the Mekong River Commission (MRC). Increasingly, Washington is becoming more involved in the region to counter China’s interest and strategies.

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