India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, emphasized the importance of peace and prosperity in the Mekong region in achieving India’s vision for security and growth among all countries in the area under its Act East policy. Jaishankar made these remarks during the 12th Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Mechanism meeting.
The lower Mekong region holds great significance for India, both historically and in the present context. Jaishankar highlighted the fact that India and the Mekong region represent ancient river civilizations of the Asian continent. Recognizing this shared heritage, India seeks to enhance cooperation and foster closer ties with the Mekong countries.
The MGC Mechanism serves as a platform for cooperation between India and five Mekong countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The mechanism aims to promote cultural, economic, and educational exchanges, as well as strengthen connectivity and regional integration.
During the meeting, Jaishankar stressed the need for collective efforts to address common challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, and economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. He underscored India’s commitment to supporting the Mekong region’s development through capacity building, infrastructure projects, and skill development initiatives.
India’s Act East policy, launched in 2014, seeks to deepen engagement with the countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including those in Southeast Asia. The policy focuses on enhancing trade, investment, and people-to-people ties, while also promoting regional security and stability.
The Mekong region is of strategic importance for India’s Act East policy due to its geostrategic location and economic potential. It serves as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia, and its waterways are vital for regional trade and connectivity.
India has been actively involved in various regional initiatives in the Mekong region, including the MGC, the ASEAN-led frameworks, and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). These engagements reflect India’s commitment to fostering a rules-based order, promoting regional integration, and contributing to the development of its neighboring countries.
In recent years, India has increased its focus on the Mekong region, particularly in the areas of connectivity, trade, and investment. It has initiated projects such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which aim to enhance connectivity and boost economic cooperation in the region.
Furthermore, India has extended lines of credit and development assistance to Mekong countries to support their infrastructure development and capacity building efforts. These initiatives are aimed at creating opportunities for trade, investment, and shared prosperity in the region.
As India continues to strengthen its engagement with the Mekong region, it recognizes the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection. India has been actively participating in the Mekong River Commission, which promotes cooperation on water resources management and sustainable development of the Mekong River basin.
India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, reaffirmed India’s commitment to the Mekong region and emphasized the significance of peace and prosperity in realizing India’s vision for security and growth. Through its Act East policy, India seeks to enhance cooperation, promote connectivity, and foster closer ties with the Mekong countries, recognizing their shared cultural heritage and the region’s strategic importance.