PHNOM PENH (Cambodia Herald) - Foreign ministers from five Mekong countries welcomed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement Friday of $50 million in new aid to the Mekong region.
The announcement came during talks with ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and, for the first time, Myanmar, previously excluded from America's Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) launched by Clinton three years ago.
According to a statement by Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, "ministers welcomed Secretary Clinton's announcement of the Asia-Pacific Strategic initiative."
The statement noted that the initiative was "designed to deepen and sustain engagement in the Asia-Pacific that includes $50 million in new US programs supporting the LMI over a three-year period."
Myanmar's inclusion in the group is now in line with groupings of Mekong countries with Japan and South Korea and follows this week's move by the United States to allow American companies to invest in Myanmar.
At a separate of foreign ministers Thursday, the United States, Japan and South Korea resolved to focus on the Mekong region as they work together to promote aid effectiveness.
"The ministers resolved to coordinate to promote the effectiveness of development assistance around the world, with a particular focus on the Mekong region via the Friends of the Lower Mekong framework," a joint statement said.
The statement followed trilateral talks between Clinton, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichuro Gemba and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.
The Japanese and South Korean ministers held separate talks earlier in the week with the five Mekong countries.