HANOI – Great power rivalries, including US-China chest-thumping on a wide range of political, economic and security issues, look set to dominate this weekend’s Asian summits set inside the bleak, socialist-cliché trappings of Hanoi’s imposing National Convention Center. The immediate focus of the 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, with regional leaders in attendance, will be Myanmar’s first elections in two decades scheduled for November 7. As ever, the military-ruled country has added an edginess to the typically anodyne proceedings, where attention to the ephemera sometimes borders on the absurd. Two days after Robert Kelley, a former International Atomic Energy Agency official, called on ASEAN to take the lead in addressing an alleged nuclear weapons program in Myanmar, one of the three official summit press statements released by ASEAN at time of writing was devoted to the issuing a commemorative stamp by host country Vietnam.
PORT-AU-PRINCE – “You are the first foreigners we have seen here”, said Pierre Ronald. Standing beside a group of thirty Haitians sheltering from the midday sun, Mr Pierre said in Carrefour, one of the worst-hit areas of Port-au-Prince, no aid had been delivered. Visibly agitated, he exclaimed – “we need food, water, doctors – but one week after the disaster, nothing!” “Do you know anyone who can help? Can you tell people we are here, without anything, please?”