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Mekong delta

Asia's poorest countries debate financial crisis

Article published on the 2008-11-07 Latest update 2008-11-07 16:27 TU

Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein (2nd L) and Foreign Minister U Nyan Win (R)(Photo: Reuters)

Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein (2nd L) and Foreign Minister U Nyan Win (R)
(Photo: Reuters)

Leaders from the five south-east Asian countries irrigated by the Mekong river met in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Friday. The Prime Ministers of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam held a summit of the Acmecs forum. The forum takes its name from the area's three main rivers, the Mekong, the Ayeyawady and the Chao Phraya.

Vietnam's Premier Nguyen Tan Dung, opening the meeting, called for the strengthening of transport, trade and investment links between the five states.

The Mekong river(Photo: Reuters)

Pham Quang Minh of Hanoi's School for Social Sciences says the presence of two superpowers in the region, Japan and China, means that the south-east Asian countries must tread carefully.

"Because both of them [China and Japan] would like to have an influence on south-east Asian countries ... the problem for south-east asian countries is to balance between them", he said.

Pham Quang Minh, School for Social Sciences in Hanoi


Apart from Thailand, the Mekong countries are among Asia's poorest, despite an Asian Development Bank programme that aims to improve infrastructure through transnational highways and bridges across the Mekong.

Thailand's Foreign Minister, Sompong Amornvivat, said on Thursday that the country would contribute to financing a third bridge across the Mekong to Laos.

Thai Premier Somchai Wongsawat said tourism was one of the areas in which joint initiatives had already been successful. One of the initiatives the five countries are working on is a "Five Nations, One Destination" plan.