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Vietnam discussing with China, other Mekong countries to ensure sustainable use of water: official

HANOI, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam is discussing very actively with China and other Mekong River countries in order to ensure sustainable use of the Mekong water resources, said a Vietnamese official on Thursday.

Le Hai Binh, spokesperson of Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the remark at a regular press briefing in Vietnam's capital Hanoi when responding to a reporter's enquiry over China's discharge of water to Mekong River downstream to help alleviate drought and saline intrusion in Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta region.

"Through diplomatic channel, Vietnam has requested China to increase the release of water from Jinghong dam in China's Yunnan province to help alleviate the drought and saline intrusion in a number of Vietnamese southern provinces in the Mekong Delta region," said Binh.

"According to information from Vietnamese Embassy in China, on March 14, 2016, representative from Chinese authorities of water resources met with Vietnamese Embassy representative and informed us that from March 15 to April 10 this year, China will increase discharge of water from Jinghong dam down the river from 1,100 cubic meters per second to 2,190 cubic meters per second, which double the long-run annual average," Binh told reporters.

"Prior to making request to the Chinese side, Vietnamese competent authorities have worked together very closely to come up with a detail plan to help relieve the drought in Vietnamese provinces around the Mekong Delta," Binh said.

"For the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are discussing very actively with China and other Mekong River countries in order to ensure sustainable use of the Mekong water resources and ensure harmony between the interests of all the riparian states and that of people living in the region," Binh told reporters.

The ongoing serious drought is damaging some 160,000 hectares of paddy rice in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, causing losses of some 5,000 billion Vietnamese dong (222.2 million U.S. dollars), and affecting about 290,000 hectares of fruit trees, Vietnamese media reported earlier on Tuesday.

Spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lu Kang said on Tuesday that China will release emergency water supply from Jinghong Hydropower Station from March 15 till April 10 to the lower reaches of the Mekong River to alleviate drought in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

China and the five countries along the Mekong are friendly neighbors and assistance like this is natural, Lu said.

Mekong River originates in China and runs through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is known as Lancang in the Chinese stretch.

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