07:33 GMT18 February 2020
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    Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed the latest action plan to peacefully develop the Lower Mekong region in Southeast Asia over the next five years at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the State Department announced.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Kerry explained that as part of President Barack Obama’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, the United States has committed substantial resources in support of LMI, totaling $100 million from 2009 to 2015.

    “[The] eighth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia… addresses cross-border development and policy challenges facing the five Lower Mekong partner countries: Cambodia, Lao[s], Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam,” the media note issued on Wednesday said.

    The LMI ministers approved a Master Plan of Action to Implement the Lower Mekong Initiative 2016-2020 that will focus on “water, energy and food security nexus and gender equality and women’s empowerment,” the media note stated.

    The Plan of Action also outlines six priority LMI programs covering agriculture and food security, connectivity, education, energy security, environment and water and health, according to the note.

    “Ministers reaffirmed the importance of integrating gender equality in development planning,” the note said.

    The LMI was launched in 2009 as a multinational partnership among Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States to create integrated sub-regional cooperation among the five Lower Mekong countries, according to the organization’s website.

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