More on Secretary Rice's Travel to the Middle East, Asia and the PacificSean McCormack: Away From the PodiumAbout the Author: Sean McCormack serves as Department Spokesman and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.
We are here in Singapore at the Shangri-La Hotel for the annual ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting. In the past, the meeting was perhaps most well known to the public for the skits or performances in which foreign ministers (and their delegations) performed acts of ritual silliness in the name of diplomacy. For some reason, and I will not ask why, that part of the program has been dropped from this year's meeting. You will not hear any complaints from the American delegation about the revamped program, and most especially me. Musical talent is not a strength.
The program does leave lots of time for serious diplomatic work, though, and Secretary Rice will meet with her counterparts from Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. She will also attend an informal ministerial-level meeting of the Six-Party talks, which will include North Korea. The meeting will be the first time this group has gathered at the ministerial level. While, I don't expect specific outcomes (say final agreement on the verification protocol) it is a good chance for consultations. Separate from the Six-Party talks, I expect Burma to be an important topic of discussion in meetings and hallway conversations.
Will update when I can.