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    U.S., Korea pursue Mekong nation capacity building partnership

    U.S. and South Korea meet to discuss Mekong nation capacity building

    Photo By Master Sgt. Ershwyn Thibou | United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Pacific Ocean Division (POD) Commanding...... read more read more

    SEOUL, South Korea – (Feb. 15, 2019) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Korean Water Corporation (K-water) are deepening their partnership for capacity building and more.

    Representatives from USACE and Korean Water Corporation (K-water), as well as from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, the Republic of South Korea (ROK) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), met to discuss expanding partnerships to include building capacity in key countries together, with a focus on water resources management.

    Leaders also discussed the potential for enhancing water data utilization in the Mekong region, joint research and training opportunities, and upgrading a USACE and K-water Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

    The expanded partnership is in response to South Korea’s “New Southern Policy”, a program launched in 2017 that aims to increase cooperation, and expands and strengthens relationships with nations that form the Association of South East Asian nations (ASEAN), and India. The policy bears some resemblance to the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, in that both aim to foster peace and prosperity in the region.

    USACE has been actively engaged in the Mekong since 2007, focusing on water and environmental security, disaster risk management, technical engineering assistance, and Humanitarian Assistance construction projects.

    Brig. Gen. Thomas Tickner, Pacific Ocean Division (POD) commanding general, emphasized the strategic value of partnering with K-water, who also has a robust global capacity building capability. “Whether it be building a clinic or a kindergarten in Laos, hosting a flood modeling workshop in Myanmar, or engaging in strategic partnerships with our allies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is here to support our nation's strategy to maintain a free and open rules-based Indo-Pacific, where all countries can participate and prosper,” said Tickner. “Partnering with K-water to reach other countries in the Mekong, not only aligns with our goals, but sets us up to have even greater impact in terms of capacity building throughout the region,” he said. "We’ve had our share of lessons learned in the U.S. By sharing our best practices, we hope to enhance the capacity of our partners. What better way to do this than to collaborate with our South Korean allies,” Tickner continued.

    During the opening remarks, K-water CEO, Dr. Haksoo Lee stated, “In particular, if K-water and USACE strengthen cooperation, it is without doubt that the Water Data Utilization in the Mekong Region project will achieve excellent results through continuous cooperation between the two agencies.”

    USACE’s Chief of International Cooperation for the Indo-Pacific, Evan Ting stated, “This is a natural partnership between two organizations (K-water and USACE) that share much in common (expertise in water). I’m honored to have partnered with K-water in September of 2018 to provide flood modeling training to nine countries (to include all Mekong countries) using the USACE Hydrologic Engineer Center – River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) software.”

    Tickner also expressed enthusiasm at the prospect for expanded joint research and training opportunities, which could include beginner, intermediate, and advanced training, as well as publication of training materials in five Mekong languages. “There’s considerable potential for continued exploration of exchange programs, reciprocal training opportunities, and joint research that would be mutually beneficial. Such efforts can only further strengthen our respective organizations and treasured partnership,” he said.

    Both USACE and K-water now have their sights set on updating their MOU to add flexibility, scope for future collaborations, as well as to establish a formal Joint Steering Committee to foster future collaborations.

    In closing remarks, leaders re-emphasized the importance of the ROK Southern Policy’s alignment with the U.S. free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. “I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of our partnership in building Mekong capacity in water resources management and I am excited at what’s in store for our future collaboration on this topic,” Tickner said.

    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.20.2019
    Date Posted: 03.20.2019 22:11
    Story ID: 315093
    Location: HONOLULU, HAWAII, US

    Web Views: 167
    Downloads: 0

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