India has announced a revolving fund with an annual contribution of US$1 million for short gestation projects in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in an effort to strengthen its ties with the four new Asean countries. The establishment of the India-CLMV Quick Impact Projects Revolving Fund was unveiled during the sixth Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Ministerial Meeting held in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith led the Lao delegation to the meeting which was also attended by leaders from India and the Mekong countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Indian government will also continue to award 50 scholarships annually for Mekong countries until 2016, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the meeting, the participants reviewed the results of cooperation between the MGC countries following the decisions made at the previous meeting, and discussed plans to improve cooperative mechanisms.
They emphasised four areas, namely tourism, culture, education, and transportation linkage, as a solid foundation for future trade and investment cooperation in the region.
The delegates also discussed future areas of cooperation including trade and investment, sustainable development, health, small-to-medium enterprises and other projects that can quickly benefit the people of India and the Mekong region.
They appreciated the establishment of a museum displaying traditional Asian textiles in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and the progress of the project to renovate World Heritage Sites in the Mekong countries including Laos.
As a coordinating country for the transport sector, Laos proposed that India and the Mekong countries continue to implement initiatives for highway development to connect India to Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. This would facilitate trade, investment and tourism in the sub-region.
During the meeting, Dr Thongloun stressed the importance of the MGC projects implemented in past years, saying they have contributed to socio-economic development and strengthened cooperative relations between India and the five Mekong countries.
The MGC was established on November 2000 in Vientiane with a vision for cooperation between India and the Mekong countries.
The second MGC meeting was held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in July 2001, then in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in June 2003; in Cebu, the Philippines, in January 2007; and in Manila, the Philippines, in August 2007.
The 7th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting will be held in Laos next year under the presidency of Laos.
During this week’s meeting, Dr Thongloun held talks with India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to discuss how to consolidate cooperative relations between the two countries.
The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to continue exchange visits by high-level delegations between the two countries and to support one another in the regional and international arenas.
India is pleased to assist Laos in the areas of education, culture, agriculture, energy and other fields. India is committed to providing low interest loans to Laos to support socio-economic development in the country.
Photo Credit: Vientiane Times