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Jakarta Post

For ASEAN, talk is a real bargain

  • Endy M. Bayuni

Washington, DC   /   Thu, August 4 2011   /  07:00 am

Talk is cheap, but if it means preventing nations from engaging in bloody and destructive wars, it is an unbeatable bargain. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which marks its 44th anniversary on Aug. 8, knows this all too well.

The region has grown and become prosperous over the past 44 years, largely by talking their way out of many conflicts. Now expanded in membership and scope, ASEAN is called on to play an active role in preventing the escalation of tensions that could plunge Asia into a theater of wars through the only way it knows best: diplomacy.

The plethora of ASEAN meetings, including the expanded versions that include countries from outside the region, may seem like one giant talk-shop fest for diplomats staying in luxury hotels.

Most meetings end with a long communiqué listing their accomplishments, which to the lay person seem of li...