US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Jan 2009 to Mar 2009
: The director of the State Department’s Mainland Southeast Asia Bureau meets with Burma’s foreign minister in the capital, Naypyidaw – the first time a U.S. official has met with a member of the ruling junta since it took office in 1997.
: Speaking in Phnom Penh, Stephen Blake, director of the State Department’s Mainland Southeast Asia Bureau, states that the U.S. will not interfere in the Cambodia-Thailand border dispute around the Preah Vihear temple and urges that the conflict be resolved peacefully.
: Suzette Nicolas submitted a sworn statement to a Philippine appeals court, recanting her accusation of rape against U.S. Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was convicted of the offense in December 2006 and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
: U.S. Navy destroyers begin the escort of U.S. surveillance ships in the South China Sea the day after Chinese boats harassed the USS Impeccable south of Hainan Island.
: The U.S. government reveals that hundreds of hours of video tapes showing harsh interrogation of Al Qaeda captives in Thailand were destroyed in 2005 as Congress and U.S. courts intensified their scrutiny of CIA detention and interrogation practices.
: The ASEAN summit meets in Hua Hin, Thailand. The meeting focuses on trade deals and prospects for an integrated economic community by 2015.
: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati suggests to Secretary Clinton that Jakarta would be interested in a currency swap arrangement to help Indonesia through its current credit difficulties.
: Secretary Clinton visits Indonesia as part of her four nation initial Asia trip.
: The Second Asia-Pacific Intelligence Chiefs conference is held in Singapore co-hosted by the U.S. Pacific Command and Singapore with 25 countries represented.
: Adm. Timothy Keating at the Cobra Gold closing ceremony praises the Malacca Strait countries for their collaboration in ensuring safe maritime passage. Piracy dropped to just two cases in 2008 from 50 in 2007.
: The Philippine Supreme Court rules that a U.S. serviceman convicted of rape but detained on US embassy grounds must be transferred to a Philippine prison. The case has become entangled in Philippine national politics and the fairness of the Philippine-U.S. VFA.
: Ambassador Kenney says the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for U.S. troops in the Philippines will continue under President Obama.
: Indonesian State Secretary Hatta Radjasa states that U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s upcoming visit to Indonesia is a sign of the Obama administration’s outreach to the Muslim world.
: Cobra Gold, Asia’s largest U.S.-led and Thai-hosted annual multinational military exercise, takes place with an emphasis on peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
: A U.S Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Lassen, visits Bali where its crew is hosted by the Indonesian Navy. Vice Adm. John Bird, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, states that the U.S. Navy conducts 150 engagements annually with its Indonesian counterpart.
: The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy sends a letter to President Obama through the U.S. embassy, urging him to help end the internecine Mindanao conflict. The letter refers to Obama’s pledge to seek better relations with the Muslim world.
: Burma’s weekly journal, The Voice, publishes excerpts from President Obama’s inaugural address, excluding passages that criticized “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent….”
: 178 Philippine and 35 U.S. military personnel participate in the Balance Piston 90-01 exercise in Capiz in the Visayas to enhance interoperability between the armies as well as interagency cooperation between the military and law enforcement.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi says he is “happy with President Obama’s plans to engage the Muslim world.”
: Ambassador Kenney states the U.S. is prepared to aid in the search for three Red Cross personnel kidnapped in the southern Philippines presumably by the Abu Sayyaf.
: The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee states it is investigating allegations that Malaysian authorities are transporting Burmese refugees from government detention facilities and turning them over to human traffickers in southern Thailand.
: A U.S.-Vietnam education forum opens in Hanoi. Eighty U.S. universities have formed partnerships with Vietnam, and about 10,000 Vietnamese are studying in the U.S.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro says that this year’s U.S.-Philippine Balikatan exercise would focus on rehabilitation in calamity-stricken areas and not be involved in the anti-insurgency campaign in the Bicol region.
: U.S.-based Human Rights Watch calls on the World Bank and donor countries to press Vietnam to stop arresting journalists who expose corruption and urges Hanoi to permit free media expression.
: Supporting anti-Israel and anti-American demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur, former Prime Minister Mahathir calls on Malaysians who work for U.S. companies to quit and to sell any U.S. dollars they own so that the U.S. “will become a bankrupt country and will not be able to produce weapons for Israel.”
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney states that President Obama will continue U.S. support for the Mindanao peace process including economic aid for the region’s development.
: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad calls for a global boycott of U.S.-made products because of U.S. backing for Israel on its war in Gaza against Hamas. He criticizes Washington’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and sees no change in U.S. policy under President Obama “because a lot of voters in America are Jews.”
: More than 3,000 Muslim demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Consulate in Medan, Indonesia condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza.