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(December 17, 2021) Implications of Blinken's aborted visit

Having skipped Thailand due to a Covid-19 case among his travel delegation, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken's aborted three-country tour of Southeast Asia has hindered the full projection of President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific geostrategy. Not wrapping up the trip with a visit to Thailand, a mainland Southeast Asia pivot and longstanding US treaty ally, also misses an opportunity to shore up what has been a relative bilateral estrangement. In short, Secretary Blinken's diplomatic foray in Southeast Asia has fallen short for the time being.

Mr Blinken's itinerary aimed at three major Southeast Asian capitals, from Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, before travelling back to Washington via Hawaii. While major policy announcements appeared on the cards, none really transpired. The highlight in US geostrategic positioning is likely to be Mr Blinken's remarks on the "free and open Indo-Pacific" (FOIP) in Jakarta on Tuesday. It covered the gamut of US engagements and objectives in the region, setting the tone for the entire trip. In Kuala Lumpur, where Mr Blinken met Prime Minister Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob and fielded a wide-ranging press conference together with Foreign Minister Dato' Saifuddin Abdullah, no major policy speech came out of the proceedings.

www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2233151/implications-of-blinkens-aborted-visit


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