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PacNet #59 – Comparative Connections

The only good news over the past four months regarding Korean Peninsula denuclearization is the absence of any new really bad news. North Korea’s widely predicted third nuclear test or follow-on missile launch did not occur. The biggest multilateral surprise came when ASEAN concluded its annual ministerial meeting without issuing a communique. The ministers at the ARF highlighted the need for broader multilateral cooperation throughout the region, including the South China Sea. Economic ministers launched the first East Asian Summit Economic Ministers Meeting and the inaugural ASEAN-US Business Summit. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Panetta provided reassurance that the US planned to remain engaged in the region, although this did little to deter others from harping about US "decline." That refrain was accompanied by attempts to frame US policy as a response to the rise of China and a shifting balance of power in the region.