Korea to boost ties with Mekong nations

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 29, 2014 - 20:53
  • Updated : Jul 29, 2014 - 20:53
South Korea reached agreement with Thailand and four other Mekong region countries Tuesday to further their diplomatic and economic cooperation, Seoul‘s foreign ministry said.

The foreign ministers of South Korea and the five countries met in Seoul to adopt a three-year action plan that calls for expanding cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, green growth, and information and communications technology, according to the ministry.

It was the fourth meeting of the top diplomats from South Korea and the nations in the Mekong region ― Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The inaugural meeting was held in 2011.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (third from left) poses with top diplomats from five countries in the Mekong River basin at their annual ministerial meeting in Seoul on Tuesday. From left are Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, Laotian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Yun, Thai Permanent Secretary and Acting Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister U Thant Kyaw and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. (Yonhap)

Under the action plan, South Korea will install a traffic research center in the Mekong River area to help the Mekong countries better learn from South Korea’s traffic policy.

Seoul will also provide reforestation assistance to the five Southeast Asian nations through the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization while increasing its official development aid to the countries under the agreement.

In an opening speech, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said increased cooperation between the sides will help boost economic growth in Asia.

“The Mekong region‘s boundless potential combined with Korea’s experience of economic development can serve not only as a locomotive for an Asian economic take-off but also as a new growth engine for the world‘s economy,” Yun said.

Speaking at the meeting, Acting Thai Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeo said more mutual cooperation can provide South Korean companies with business opportunities in the Mekong region.

“The Mekong region is undergoing tremendous transformation.

Mekong region represents what people have described as the new frontier with big investments,” he said. “We hope to see the establishment of special economic zones along the common border area. This will represent opportunities for the Korean business sector and in the Mekong subregion.” 

The ministry also said Yun discussed military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, heightened recently by North Korea’s missile and rocker launches, during the meeting with the foreign ministers who voiced concerns over the North Korean moves. (Yonhap)