U.S. Press Statement on the Friends of the Mekong Senior Officials’ Meeting:
“Enhancing Cooperation: Coordinating with Friends and Allies”
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON
AUGUST 2, 2022
The Senior Officials of the Friends of the Mekong met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on August 2, 2022. The United States chaired the meeting and welcomed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat and the United Kingdom who participated as observers. The Friends of the Mekong serves as a coordinating platform between Mekong sub-region countries and other organizations and countries committed to the development and prosperity of the region.
The United States of America remains committed to advancing the Friends of the Mekong as a multilateral regional mechanism that enhances cooperation in the Mekong sub-region. The guiding principles of the Friends of the Mekong continue to be transparency, good governance, equality, gender equity, and mutual respect and trust. The Friends of the Mekong is dedicated to using multilateral tools to better coordinate and support development in the region. The United States views this format of engagement in the Mekong sub-region as integral to the joint work with ASEAN and across the Indo-Pacific to support the principles of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
Since last year’s Foreign Minister’s meeting of the Friends of the Mekong, cooperation with members has advanced projects designed to increase prosperity and support locally-led management of natural resources. An example of this cooperation includes the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP), which supports clean energy integration, power market development, and regional electricity trade. Since the 2019 launch of JUMPP, the U.S. government, in coordination with the Government of Japan, has delivered 45 technical assistance activities and written assessments, trained 425 Mekong officials, and is developing an additional 37 activities, including two U.S. study tours in 2022 on reliable integration of variable renewable energy. As part of JUMPP, Mekong officials meet with U.S. electricity regulators, grid operators, and private companies to exchange ideas and leading practices on power system modernization and decarbonization.
Another example of successful cooperation is a partnership between the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of the Environment, K-Water, NASA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Coordinated by the Friends of the Mekong-established Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership, this ROK-U.S. Mekong collaboration assists in the development of water-related resources and increases and expands access to new technologies. Further, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have partnered together on the Mekong Safeguards Program to strengthen environmental and social standards in railway and energy projects across the Lower Mekong, including activities with one of the largest independent power producers in Southeast Asia to advance ambitious sustainability goals.
This year’s Friends of the Mekong Senior Officials Meeting sought to look towards the future and enhancing cooperation, resulting in an agreement to continue coordinating schedules for future engagement and a renewed commitment to collaborate on combating health security vulnerabilities, ensuring food and energy security, and countering the climate crisis. During comments by the United States, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jung Pak stressed the importance of data-driven and proactive basin planning in the Mekong sub-region to achieve equitable and sustainable use of water and related resources, and the need to further focus attention on transboundary issues. She also recognized the role of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRC), the only treaty-based Mekong River basin organization, as an essential leader in Mekong Basin development and transboundary cooperation and encouraged continued support of MRC principles, objectives, and goals.
The United States condemns the Burmese military regime’s executions of pro-democracy and opposition leaders as reprehensible acts of violence that further demonstrate the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law. The United States supports the people of Myanmar in their aspirations for freedom and democracy and calls on the regime to end the use of violence, respect the will of the people, and restore the country’s path toward democracy. The United States will continue to support the efforts of ASEAN to facilitate a peaceful solution in the interest of the people of Myanmar.
More information on the Friends of the Mekong
The Friends of the Mekong includes: the Asian Development Bank, Australia, Cambodia, the European Union, Japan, Lao PDR, the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, Myanmar, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United States, Viet Nam, and the World Bank. The ASEAN Secretariat and the United Kingdom participated as observers.