Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn welcomed a proposal to raise the level of the Mekong-Republic of Korea (ROK) cooperation to a strategic partnership – a request that was first proposed by Kang Kyung-wha, that country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Mekong side of the partnership represents the five Mekong River nations – Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.
Sokhonn’s remarks were made during the 10th Mekong-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting held via video conference on Monday.
“During the video conference, Sokhonn expressed Cambodia’s warm welcome and full support for the ROK’s proposal to raise the level of the Mekong-ROK cooperation to the level of a strategic partnership which is in line with Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s previous initiative to upgrade the mechanism of the meeting to a summit level,” the ministry said.
Sokhonn said there was clear merit in appreciating the ROK’s commitment to contribute to and focus on the Mekong region’s development. He said the ROK also has a commitment to contribute to the realisation of the ASEAN community.
“As far as the long-term sustainability of our cooperation framework is concerned, I am of the view that development assistance is only one side of the story.
“The resilience of our nations, especially in the post-Covid-19 economic recovery period, will reside in the ability of our respective governments to stimulate our economies through trade, investment and tourism,” he said.
The deputy prime minister also expressed his gratitude for the humanitarian assistance provided by the ROK to Cambodia. The assistance included medical kits to fight against Covid-19 and was worth $300,000, the ministry said.
The Mekong-ROK cooperation started in 2010, focusing on six priority areas which include infrastructure, information technology and telecommunication, green growth, water resources development, agriculture, rural development, and human resources development, said the ministry’s website.
Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia said on Tuesday that top-level leaders will decide when and if the Mekong-ROK partnership is upgraded to a strategic one. Currently, the cooperation summit is only held for foreign ministers.
He said as the ROK is implementing its new southern policy, looking toward ASEAN and India, it is an opportunity for Mekong countries to gain greater benefits by cooperating with it.