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Wednesday 23 Aug 2017 | 23:48 | SYDNEY
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US in the EAS: Woolcott's last hope?

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COMMENTS

27 November 2008 08:45

After visiting 13 countries Richard Woolcott has discovered there is 'no appetite' for a new Asian regional body to discuss political and strategic issues at heads of government level.

That seems to leave him with the option of tweaking an existing body. In a speech at the Lowy Institute in July, Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, seemed to foreshadow this possibility. He said:

There could be a new piece of architecture, as ASEAN and APEC once were. Or it could evolve and emerge from and through the existing architecture….As currently configured, none of the current architecture is comprehensive in membership, scope or purpose. India is not a part of APEC. The United States is not part of the East Asia Summit.

Indeed, Mr Woolcott has said he is now looking 'at adapting either APEC or the East Asia Summit or an existing organisation in a way which can achieve the objective.' But at a time when APEC is being sidelined or diminished how will this impact Woolcott's efforts to identify some kind of workable outcome? If APEC is in decline would Indian membership — which in any event would be off the agenda until 2010 when the moratorium on new membership expires — be an empty achievement for an ambitious government? If yes, then that would appear to leave the other option of getting the US into the EAS and somehow convincing America that signing up to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation is a good idea.

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