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Jakarta Post

Is America turning a new leaf in Southeast Asia?

  • Kevin H.R. Villanueva

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 1 2012   /  09:22 am

Southeast Asia has tussled continually with the two faces of US foreign policy – from the time the US propped up authoritarian regimes in the 1970s, and until the 1990s when the Clinton administration came out loud and clear on human rights and democracy promotion. Last week, the first ASEAN-US Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Meeting came to a close in Manila, marking 25 years of formal dialogue between the partners.

This high-level gathering of top diplomats, intellectuals and business entrepreneurs picked up from where the ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting left of in November 2011 and laid the groundwork for the fourth ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting in Cambodia later this year. The ASEAN-US Dialogue and Leaders Meeting is a fresh opportunity for the two parties to take history onto their side.

For the US, the fact that their exports to ASEAN rose by 23.3 percent, totaling US$100.5 b...