External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday that India wants a multi-faceted engagement with the Mekong region because of its importance. Jaishankar, speaking at the 11th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) summit, also urged for a “collective and collaborative” approach to properly deal with the corona virus epidemic, claiming that the virus knows no national borders.
In 2000, the MGC initiative, which includes India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, was formed to improve cooperation in a variety of areas, including connectivity, tourism, and culture. “For India, the Mekong region is of great importance. India seeks multi-dimensional engagement with the Mekong countries. We need to broaden the base of our partnership by identifying newer areas of cooperation,” Jaishankar said. “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,” he said.
In response to the corona virus crisis, Jaishankar stated that the MGC alliance must find methods to contribute its strength to the battle 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,” he said. “We need to work together to find ways how the MGC partnership can lend its strength to the fight against the pandemic,” he added. The Mekong Ganga Cooperation, according to the external affairs ministry, is built on a strong basis of common geographical, historical, and civilizational linkages among 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.