US President Barack Obama will host eight of the ten leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)[i] in New York on Friday, September 24, 2010 at the 2nd US ASEAN Summit. The meeting underlines renewed American policy energy being invested in Southeast Asia. Headlines from the discussion should focus on three areas …
The stakes are high in New York, and the fact the 2nd US ASEAN Summit is taking place is significant. It is a strong signal that the US is finding its way to more comprehensive engagement in Asia and following through on its commitments to try to build an enduring Asia strategy using ASEAN as a foundation.
Vietnam is providing very strong leadership in its role as ASEAN Chair in 2010. Expect that proactive leadership to continue next year as Indonesia, by far the largest country in ASEAN, takes over as Chair.
While the idea of combining the jobs of US Ambassador to ASEAN with Special Envoy for Burma offers a certain bureaucratic efficiency, pursing this option would undercut the ability of even the most experienced diplomat to deliver on each portfolio.