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News Analysis: Asean members worried by Rice’s decision to skip talks

The decision by Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, not to attend the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos starting on Sunday is being read across the region as a worrying sign of a diminishing U.S. commitment to the region and has left the region’s foreign ministers confused about what point, if any, Rice is trying to make. Rice’s absence from the meetings in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, comes at a highly sensitive moment for Asean. In neglecting the group’s annual session, which U.S. secretaries of state have long attended, Rice could help to push Asean to the brink of a potentially divisive identity crisis, analysts, diplomats and regional experts say. Full Story

 

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