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ASEAN-Mekong River Basin Cooperation Promoted
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The Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Mekong River Basin Development Cooperation was opened Tuesday in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan of China attended the opening ceremony, and delivered a speech.

Zeng said that China has always taken an active part in the ASEAN-Mekong River Basin Development Cooperation, adding that so long as the nations keep exploring new cooperation areas in line with the principles of consultation, equality, reciprocity and common development, they will achieve peace, stability and prosperity in this region.

Zeng spoke highly of the achievements of ASEAN-Mekong River Basin Development Cooperation, saying that after seven years of concerted efforts, an open, healthy and mutually beneficial cooperation pattern is being formed, and cooperation is developing in a more extensive way.

Further strengthening regional cooperation will help the countries involved improve the investment environment, accelerate the pace of development, and enhance economic strength and international competitiveness, he added.

Zeng also noted that China's rapid and healthy development will provide more opportunities for ASEAN-Mekong River Basin cooperation, pledging China's continued willingness to promote cooperation with all the countries in the region.

He added that Yunnan Province will definitely play an increasingly important role in the cooperation.

Addressing the ceremony on behalf of ASEAN, Soulivong Daravont, head of the Laotian delegation, said that the ASEAN countries are confident about the cooperation prospects.

At the meeting, the delegates listened to a report by the special working team of Pan-Asian Railway, and chose Laos to chair the next meeting.

Prior to the meeting, Zeng met with leaders of the delegations of the ASEAN countries and Tran Duc Minh, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN.

The ASEAN-Mekong River Basin Development Cooperation held its first ministerial meeting in Malaysia in 1996. It has since become an important economic cooperation mechanism within the Mekong River Basin, with the ASEAN countries and China as its members.

(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2003)

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