Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen


First, I wish to thank the co-chairs for the invitation to brief this esteemed group today on U.S. development priorities in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. I am grateful that we all have this opportunity to renew our shared commitment to development in the GMS and exchange information on how each partner is making good on that commitment.

If I had to sum up U.S. bilateral assistance efforts in Cambodia and the region in one sentence, I would say that the United States seeks to build human infrastructure and habits of governance that complement the physical infrastructure that is rapidly developing with support from ADB and other donors.

Since I have more than one sentence today, I am happy to elaborate, using four pillars of our engagement in Cambodia to highlight that commitment:

 First, bilateral health assistance that has long formed the bedrock of our aid;  Second, increased emphasis on ensuring food security and adequate response to climate change;


 Third, democracy and governance programs that seek to ensure citizens feel they have a full stake in their countries’ development; and  Fourth, the Lower Mekong Initiative to improve coordination on health, education, infrastructure, and environment priorities among Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States.

Working with host government professionals, as well as a network of nongovernmental organizations, international initiatives and other donors, the U.S. Government has invested heavily in strengthening health systems and improving public health in Cambodia and the region. In Cambodia, that investment has contributed to successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS – highlighted by a reduction in the adult prevalence rate from 2 percent to .8 percent since 1998 – and in improving maternal and child health.

Malnutrition remains persistent, however, and our new HARVEST program – the implementing project in Cambodia of President Obama’s global Feed the Future and Global Climate Change initiatives – is in part intended to reduce it. Over its five years of execution, HARVEST will focus on diversifying and increasing rural household production and income, both of which are key to


improving not only Cambodian food security – by which I mean reducing poverty and malnutrition – but also helping Cambodia better adapt to climate change.

Donor efforts achieve much more when they are undertaken in close consultation with governments and non-governmental organizations. For that reason, support for civil society and government partners is a fundamental part of U.S. assistance programs. We support civil society working in areas of development assistance including health, education, agriculture, economic growth, and democracy and governance. In Cambodia, in the democracy and governance field alone, we provide support to over 50 civil society organizations promoting human rights, legal/judicial reform, voter and civic education, and public awareness to counter trafficking-in-persons. These programs play a key role in educating citizens about the principles of democracy and human rights and help promote constructive civil society participation in policy reform.

The Lower Mekong Initiative highlights and connects U.S. bilateral engagement with countries in the region, as well as offers a venue for all five governments to coordinate on environment, health, infrastructure, and education priorities. On July 22, the LMI Foreign Ministers met in Bali for the 4th LMI Ministerial and welcomed the completion of a Concept Paper and a Five-Year Plan


of Action, which provide a vision for the Initiative and a strategic framework for future activities. The meeting also featured the launch of a web-based “Virtual Secretariat,” which will facilitate information sharing among the partner governments.

All of these programs highlight and reinforce the commitment of the United States to the region’s continued development. So many strides have been made already, and it is exciting to see those gains being expanded upon every day. This is an increasingly dynamic part of the world, and the United States is excited and proud to partner with its citizens to build an even brighter future.

I would be remiss in closing my remarks without commending the Asian Development Bank and the GMS Economic Cooperation Program for the successful way they have used common Member Country goals and objectives as a foundation for such a focused and well-coordinated approach to development. As you look ahead to planning future activities, we urge focus on responsible, equitable economic development, with even more emphasis on addressing poverty alleviation and environmental degradation, and expanding the contributions of the private sector and civil society to development.

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