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Jakarta Post

Indonesia’s tactful diplomacy key to uniting ASEAN

  • Tama Salim

    The Jakarta Post

Vientiane   /   Wed, July 27 2016   /  08:54 am

The 49th annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Vientiane, Laos, was concluded with the issuance of a joint communique by the bloc’s top diplomats, a feat their biggest critics wrongly predicted was impossible.

One of the most hotly debated points in the communique was the inclusion of a subsection on the South China Sea (SCS) debacle.

“This [agreed text] is proof that ASEAN is able to come together as one in times of trouble, in order to safeguard its home and common interests,” Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said on Tuesday.

The road to an ASEAN consensus was a dynamic process. For three days, Retno ran a diplomatic marathon of sorts, approaching each of the ASEAN foreign ministers separately to consolidate support for a consensus.

It was Indonesia that also took the initiative of convening the ministers in an informal retreat ahead of the AMM pl...