Hot on the heels of the Hague Tribunal’s decision about the South China Sea, Foreign Minister McCully is back in Asia. Back-to-back meetings with ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit foreign ministers this week in Laos will give McCully and his diplomatic team a front row seat to assess the rapidly changing regional security situation.
But as well as providing New Zealand with a chance to listen and share our views on pressing regional issues, the sidelines of these meetings also provide important opportunities for one-on-one discussions with regional partners. Among the many ‘bilaterals’ scheduled for Mr McCully in Vientiane was one with special significance. For the first time in more than two years he met his counterpart from Thailand. In doing so, he signalled a major reversal of government policy.