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PacNet #30 – Condoleezza Rice’s ‘Unfortunate’ Decision

The decision by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to skip the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) ministerial-level dialogue later this month (July 29) in Vientiane represents a setback for U.S. efforts to persuade Southeast Asians that Washington really cares about their region. Secretary Rice has informed ASEAN that she plans to send her deputy, Robert Zoellick, instead.  Zoellick is highly regarded in the region and had a very successful visit to six Southeast Asian nations in May, but the decision by the secretary to skip her first opportunity to meet face-to-face with all her ASEAN and other East Asian counterparts has still widely been seen, and reported in the Asian press, as “an unnecessary snub.”