Regional Leaders Discuss Water Use, Dams on the Mekong River

China will continue to cooperate with countries of the Greater Me­kong Sub Region on the issue of upstream dams on the Mekong River, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said Monday.

Returning from the third GMS Summit in Laos, which was attended by the leaders of China, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, Cham Prasidh said the Cambodian delegation, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, met with Chinese Pre­mier Wen Jiabao to discuss concerns over dam construction on the Mekong.

Wen Jiabao “opened the door for any negotiations and compromise on current water ” use, he said.

Cham Prasidh also said that GMS countries agreed to take care to minimize the effects that dams have on countries along the Me­kong River but to also remain flexible on the issue.

“We all need water and electricity,” he said.

Fifty-one NGOs and experts from the six Mekong countries recently accused the Mekong River Com­mission of failing to respond to concerns over plans to dam the lower Mekong mainstream in as many as eight locations in Thailand, Laos and Cam­bodia to generate electricity.

Hun Sen also met with Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to discuss Preah Vihear temple, Cham Prasidh said.

During a meeting between the two leaders March 3, Thailand said it would not oppose Cam­bodia’s bid to have the temple in­scribed on the World Heritage List.

“The Thai side wanted to confirm its agreement with” Hun Sen, Cham Prasidh said.

He added that countries also discussed future development in nine sectors, including transportation, telecommunications, agriculture and tourism.

The Asian Development Bank, which provides financing and technical assistance for such GMS projects, issued a statement Monday praising improvements in the relationships between GMS countries and their success in driving growth and reducing poverty.

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