Leaders from Mekong countries and Japan attend a joint news conference of the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting at Akasaka State Guesthouse in Tokyo, Japan, 04 July 2015. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama/Pool
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Japan on Saturday pledged $6.1 billion in financial aid to the "Mekong Five" countries as it pushes infrastructure exports and courts influence in a region where rival China has an increasing presence.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled the pledge at a summit with his counterparts from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- fast-growing economies through which the lower section of the Mekong river flows.Abe has upped efforts to sell highways, train systems and power plants around the world, a key element in his bid to bolster the economy and Japan's standing abroad.
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