Foreign minister Kevin Rudd seems not to be letting his impending heart surgery slow him down; yesterday he was in Bali for (among other things) the East Asia summit foreign ministers' meeting, in preparation for the full scale heads of government meeting in November.

Although Australia manages to tie itself in knots over the occasional small boat crossing the Indian Ocean, there are a few more serious security issues in our region, and talks yesterday may have secured a breakthrough on one of them: the disputed sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea.