Kerry will be leaving on Friday, August 8, on a six-day trip to Myanmar, Australia, the Solomon Islands and Hawaii. The top US diplomat plans to spend three days attending the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit ministerial, US-ASEAN, and the Lower Mekong Initiative meetings. He will also meet with Myanmar government officials and hold several bilateral meetings on the side. His final stop in Asia will be at Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, for World War II commemoration ceremonies at Guadalcanal. A priority for Kerry will be to lower tensions as his visit comes at a time where several Southeast Asian countries are involved in disputes with Beijing over parts of the South China Sea. Although China’s recent withdrawal of an oil rig from waters also contested by Vietnam has helped reduce tensions, there are still many unanswered questions about Beijing’s long-term strategy in the region. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits. During the ASEAN Forum, the Philippines – a close ally of the United States – is expected to propose a three-part plan to freeze all activity that raises tension over disputed waters…. Read full this story
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