India looking to expand connectivity with countries of Mekong-Ganga region, broadbase partnership

New Delhi : India is looking to expand connectivity with countries of the Mekong-Ganga region and build cooperation in new areas to broaden the base of the partnership, says External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

“We aim to promote connectivity in the region in the broadest sense of the term including not just physical but also digital, economic, and people-to-people connectivity,” said the EAM, addressing a meeting of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) on Wednesday, marking the completion of its 20 years of existence.

Launched in 2000, the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) is an initiative by six countries – India and five ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam for cooperation in tourism, culture, education, as well as transport and communications.

“We need to broaden the base of our partnership by identifying newer areas of cooperation,” said Jaishankar.

Both the Mekong and the Ganga are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins.

The MGC is also indicative of the cultural and commercial linkages among the member countries of the MGC down the centuries.

Jaishankar said the MGC stands on a strong foundation of shared geographical, historical and civilizational ties between the six countries.

“This oldest sub-regional cooperation is as much a celebration of our long and rich history of trade, cultural and people-to-people exchanges as it is a vehicle to advance modern day cooperation to bring progress and prosperity to our people,” he said.

The EAM said the Mekong region is of “great importance” to India and “India seeks multi-dimensional engagement with the Mekong countries.”

He also referred to the effect of the COVID-19 and said member countries need to find how the MGC partnership can lend its strength to the fight against the pandemic.

“We are into the second year of dealing with the pandemic related disruption. Our experience shows that the virus does not respect national boundaries. It is therefore necessary that the response to the pandemic is also collective and collaborative.

We need to work together to find ways how the MGC partnership can lend its strength to the fight against the pandemic,” said Jaishankar.


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