Lao P.D.R. to Host Extraordinary Friends of the Lower Mekong Meeting in Pakse

The first-ever “Extraordinary Friends of the Lower Mekong” (XFLM) is held in Pakse.
The first-ever “Extraordinary Friends of the Lower Mekong” (XFLM) is held in Pakse.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic will host the first-ever “Extraordinary Friends of the Lower Mekong” (XFLM) sub-cabinet level meeting Mekong sustainability in Pakse on February 2-3.  The two day conference will be co-chaired by H.E. Saleumxay Kommasith, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, H.E.  Thomas A. Shannon.  It will include delegations from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, the United States, Australia, the European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank Group, and the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

Lao PDR Foreign Minister H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith and United States Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Laos’ hosting the XFLM when they met at the 2014 Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial meeting in Naypyidaw, Myanmar,  They agreed the meeting would address the environmental and social aspects of Mekong development, including smart infrastructure and alternative energy sources. Secretary Kerry also expressed gratitude for Lao-U.S. cooperation on hydropower issues, including Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong projects on fisheries, sediment, and dam safety.

The Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) is a broad dialog that improves donor coordination in the Mekong sub-region, and supports integrated cooperation between and among Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States.  FLM members include Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the European Union, Asian Development Bank, and World Bank.

The overarching goal of the Feb 2-3 XFLM meeting is to find ways that the FLM group can work together to bolster regional economic growth and strengthen the environmental and social aspects of regional development, including smart infrastructure, hydropower, and alternative energy.  The FLM group’s efforts also include building peer-to-peer technical networks and developing practical solutions that incorporate environmental and social safeguards into economic growth and energy security planning.