New Delhi, Jul 21 (PTI) India is seeking a multi-dimensional engagement with the Mekong region considering its great importance, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.
In an address at the 11th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) meeting, Jaishankar also called for a "collective and collaborative" response to effectively deal with coronavirus pandemic, saying the virus does not respect national boundaries.
The MGC initiative comprising six countries -- India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam -- was launched in 2000 to boost cooperation in a range 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.
Referring to the coronavirus crisis, Jaishankar said there was a need to find ways on how the MGC partnership can lend its strength to the fight 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 external affairs minister also said that the Mekong Ganga Cooperation stands on a strong foundation of shared geographical, historical and civilizational ties 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.