U.S. to give $153 million to Mekong countries for collaborative projects

The United States said it would provide at least $153 million (119.43 million pounds) to Mekong countries for collaborative projects in the region, Vietnamese state television (VTV) reported on Friday, citing U.S. State Department officials.

The pledges, made at the first Mekong-U.S. Partnership ministerial meeting, will be for enhancing water resource data-sharing, disaster management projects and cross-border crime prevention projects, VTV said.

Foreign ministers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries also met at a virtual summit hosted by Vietnam.

The Mekong River has become a new front in U.S.-China rivalry, environmentalists and officials have said, with Beijing overtaking Washington in spending and influence over downstream countries at the mercy of its control of the river’s waters.

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Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Catherine Evans