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ASEAN gets a new chief

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gets a new secretary general this month. Vietnam's Le Luong Minh takes over leadership of the organization from Thailand's Surin Pitsuwan, who served a five-year term.

The right to nominate secretaries-general rotates within the organization, and it was Vietnam's turn to select the organization's leader. In Minh, Hanoi has selected a diplomat with considerable experience in the multilateral realm. He served as Vietnam's United Nations ambassador for seven years (during that time, Vietnam served a two-year stint on the Security Council). Minh has also been posted to Geneva, where he interacted with UN agencies headquartered there as well as the World Trade Organization.

Pitsuwan led ASEAN through a tumultous several years, which included heightened tension with China over the South China Sea and Myanmar's political tranformation. Many of those reading the tea leaves anticipate a more restrained form of ASEAN diplomacy from the Vietnamese diplomat, particularly on the South China Sea. Via Voice of America:

For an argument that Minh has big shoes to fill, see this article in the Jakarta Globe

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