[ASEAN-Korea summit] Korea, Mekong nations seek closer ties

By Choi He-suk

Leaders adopt Mekong-Han River Declaration

  • Published : Nov 27, 2019 - 13:41
  • Updated : Nov 27, 2019 - 16:56

BUSAN -- South Korea and the five Mekong nations adopted the Mekong-Han River Declaration on Wednesday, pledging to increase cooperation.

The Mekong-Han River Declaration for Establishing Partnership for People, Prosperity and Peace was adopted at the first Mekong-Korea Summit in Busan on Wednesday, following on the heels of the two-day ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit, which wrapped up Tuesday in Busan.

The declaration outlines cooperation plans in seven areas -- culture and tourism, human resources development, agriculture and rural development, infrastructure, information and communications technology, the environment, and nonconventional security.

“Today, we the leaders confirmed that Korea-Mekong cooperation has matured and solidified, and at the same time shared the view that areas where we should cooperate more in the future are limitless,” President Moon Jae-in said in announcing the joint statement. 

President Moon Jae-in (third from right) poses for a photo with Laotain Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (left), Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi (second from left), Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (third from left), Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (second from right) and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn ahead of the 1st South Korea-Mekong Summit in Busan on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Moon added that the leaders of the Mekong nations -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- had expressed support for Korea’s New Southern Policy and agreed to three ways in which Korea-Mekong relations should be developed to establish a “Korea-Mekong partnership of peace and prosperity.”

“First, (the Mekong nations) and Korea will share our experiences and move toward mutual prosperity,” Moon said.

He said Korea and the other concerned nations would cooperate to establish state-run research organizations using the Korea Development Institute and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology as models, and that the countries would strengthen cooperation in public administration.

The joint declaration also states that the six countries will collaborate to apply information and communication technologies to a number of areas, including education, emerging industries and forest conservation.

“Second, we will cooperate even more closely for sustainable growth. We will respond to transborder threats along the Mekong, and increase cooperation in biodiversity, water resources and forestry,” Moon said.

“The Korea-Mekong biodiversity center that will be set up in a Mekong nation will protect Mekong’s biological resources, and discover useful living resources to give the bioindustry a new growth drive.”

Moon also said a Korea-Mekong water research center would be set up within K Water, Korea’s state-run water resources management company, to tap into the Mekong region’s water resources.

In addition, the countries will launch a “Korea-Mekong peace community project” to remove landmines and unexploded ordnance.

Moon added that the leaders of the Mekong nations had given their support for Korea’s “Peace Forest Initiative” and agreed to increase cooperation in related areas.

“Third, (the Mekong nations) and Korea will realize an East Asia of peace and co-prosperity,” Moon said.

“Our shared goal is for the 300 million people of the Mekong and Korea to work closely together and achieve prosperity.”

He added that the six nations had agreed to designate 2021 as the “year of Korea-Mekong exchange,” to mark the 10th anniversary of minister-level cooperation among the countries.

By Choi He-suk (

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