This week, the foreign ministers of the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are coming to Washington for an annual U.S.-ASEAN dialogue. Usually, this meeting takes place among “senior officials,” but some combination of anxiety over American engagement, and 2017 being the 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations, has ASEAN sending its top diplomats.
To date, President Donald Trump’s administration has maintained President Barack Obama’s intense pace of high-level engagement in the Asia-Pacific. And while Trump’s policies in Northeast Asia — wild posturing with North Korea, insufficient coordination with allies, and a hazardously transactional approach with China — have depleted America’s leadership and credibility in the region, Trump still has an opportunity to get Southeast Asia right.
The above excerpt was originally published in Foreign Policy.
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