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Sokhonn co-chairs MGC summit

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn during a virtual meeting on June 22. FOREIGN MINISTRY

Sokhonn co-chairs MGC summit

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will co-chair the 11th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Ministerial Meeting with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyan Jaishankar.

The meeting will be held on July 21 via video conference and will be attended by other foreign ministers from Mekong countries including Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

In a press release on July 19, the ministry said the foreign ministers in attendance will review the progress made on cooperative efforts since their 10th meeting in Bangkok on August 1, 2019, and chart out its future direction with the aim of strengthening and expanding efforts against Covid-19.

It said the ministers are also expected to exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

“The virtual meeting represents another achievement under the MGC in the past 21 years in realising economic growth and social development in the Mekong sub-region and India, while enhancing cooperation between India and the Mekong countries through culture and people-to-people ties,” the ministry said.

To mark the 20th anniversary, there will be a launching of a brand-new MGC website and the presentation of a video documentary showcasing the achievements of the association and the diverse cultures and societies of the member countries.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on July 19 that the Mekong and ASEAN diplomatic mechanisms with India could help Cambodia-India bilateral cooperation and to diversify the Kingdom’s diplomatic outreach.

“We hope that through this meeting, we will have another important diplomatic gateway for strengthening bilateral relations with India. India has had good relations with Cambodia since the Cold War when India was also a non-aligned movement founding country as well,” he said.

He added that commercial exchanges between Cambodia and India and the possibility of Indian investment in Cambodia should be encouraged. He noted that what India excels at currently are the IT and pharmaceutical sectors.

“India could help by awarding more scholarships to Cambodian students to contribute to the development of human resources in the country,” Phea said.

Asian Vision Institute president Chheang Vannarith told The Post on July 19 that the Mekong region is a growth centre as well as an emerging strategic frontier in the Asia-Pacific region. India plays quite an important role in the region by providing technical assistance, promoting cultural exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as contributing to human resources development.

He added that Cambodia wished to become a bridging state in the Mekong by promoting comprehensive collaboration and partnership among the Mekong countries and between the Mekong region with regional and extra-regional powers.

He continued that the upcoming MGC meeting will be an opportunity for the member countries to share their thoughts and commitment to beat the disastrous pandemic and work together to restore the livelihoods of the people.

Vannarith elaborated that Cambodia's multilateral diplomacy is gaining momentum despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Cambodia has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting multilateralism based on the principles of mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual trust and mutual interest.

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