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S. Korea, Mekong countries reaffirm commitment to health, economic cooperation amid pandemic

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong delivers remarks during the 11th South Korea-Mekong foreign ministers' meeting, co-chaired by his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn, in Seoul on Wednesday.(Yonhap)
Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong delivers remarks during the 11th South Korea-Mekong foreign ministers' meeting, co-chaired by his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn, in Seoul on Wednesday.(Yonhap)
South Korea and five Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River have reaffirmed concerted efforts for cooperation in health and economic fields to minimize COVID-19-driven impact and facilitate recovery.

They made the pledge in a joint statement adopted after the 11th Mekong-South Korea foreign ministers' meeting Wednesday, stressing the importance of solidarity and multilateralism to advance shared goals, Seoul's foreign ministry said. 

The meeting, held in a hybrid format, was co-chaired by Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn. Sokhonn was in Seoul this week for talks with Chung and the Mekong meeting with four other member nations -- Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

"The meeting reaffirmed its continued commitment to fostering cooperation at the bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels to address the challenges and facilitate socio-economic recovery and sustainable development in the Mekong region," the statement read.

Noting the importance of strengthening cooperation to mitigate the adverse impacts of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also called for efforts to ensure "safe, effective, accessible and affordable COVID-19 vaccine procurement, technology transfer, production and distribution, and accelerate socio-economic recovery."

In the statement, the countries appreciated Seoul's pledge to make an additional US$200 million worth of contribution to the COVAX vaccine procurement program by 2022.

They also agreed to continue working together to help improve the Mekong countries' capacity to better respond to climate change and their infrastructure, such as water treatment systems, to promote sustainable development.

They reaffirmed commitment to reinforcing cooperation between South Korea and the Mekong countries by enhancing regional connectivity through the development of infrastructure and narrowing the development gap within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and the five Mekong countries. 

In the statement, the countries also reaffirmed their support for diplomacy and dialogue in achieving the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)
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