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Vietnam's lost year: Coronavirus dulls diplomatic ambitions

Southeast Asia's packed diplomatic schedule is frozen amid pandemic

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha hands over the ASEAN chairmanship to his Vietnamese counterart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, at the closing  of the 35th ASEAN Summit in November 2019 in Bangkok.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Vietnam's ambitions to raise its stature in Southeast Asia and the broader international community as the chair of ASEAN this year have been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted interactions between people and nations.

Vietnam, which holds the regional group's annually rotating chairmanship this year, has postponed the 36th summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the end of June, which was originally scheduled to take place on April 8-9 in the central Vietnamese resort of Danang. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has informed the leaders of ASEAN about the decision to push back the summit due to the outbreak, the Foreign Ministry said recently.

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