US Secretary of State in Bangkok for talks with ASEAN foreign ministers

Foreign ministers from ASEAN member states and 30 other countries including the US, Russia and China will meet in Bangkok

pompeo asean

Photo: AP

Foreign ministers from ASEAN member states and 30 other countries including the US, Russia and China will meet in Bangkok today for five days of talks as part of the annual ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

The ASEAN countries are likely to continue to discuss the topic of Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea. ASEAN members maintain differing opinions on Beijing’s actions in the region, a reality that has hampered progress in finalising the Code of Conduct (CoC) between ASEAN and China.

While the Philippines and Vietnam have been working towards international actions against China, Beijing has been able to appease the Cambodian and Laos governments through loans and aid, putting them more in a pro-China lobby regarding the CoC.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with the Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai on August 2. The two minister are expected to discuss ways to pull ASEAN member states like Cambodia and Laos away from China towards a more China restrictive CoC.

While ASEAN members will gain from strong allies such as the US, internal unity remains the key to reaching a consensus on the China question.

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