Japan, Cambodia agree to work closely on developing Mekong region


Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, agreed Thursday to keep working together over infrastructure development in Cambodia and four other countries along the Mekong River, the Foreign Ministry said.

The two met ahead of a summit in Tokyo on Saturday that will gather Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the leaders of five Southeast Asian nations known as Mekong states — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Japan will continue to provide assistance for infrastructure-building in Cambodia and help boost intraregional connectivity, Kishida was quoted by the ministry as saying during their talks at his office.

Hor Namhong, who is also Cambodia’s deputy prime minister, said the development of the Mekong region will contribute to connecting more of the entire region covering members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the ministry said.

Pushing for infrastructure development in Cambodia, which is one of the least-developed members of ASEAN along with Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, is in line with Abe’s investment initiative announced in May to provide $110 billion to promote “quality infrastructure” in Asia over the next five years.

Kishida and Hor Namhong also said they will continue to cooperate in efforts to build the so-called ASEAN Economic Community, the ministry said. With the launch of the regional economic bloc by the end of this year, barriers to the flow of people, goods and money across ASEAN member states’ borders will be lowered.

The five Mekong states belong to the 10-member regional grouping, which also includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.