US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Oct 2003 to Dec 2003
: President Bush signs proclamation authorizing implementation of the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement signed in Washington in May 2003.
: After meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Phnom Penh, Cambodia agrees to destroy 200 Soviet-era surface-to-air missiles to prevent them from falling into terrorist hands.
: The U.S. agrees to take in about 15,000 Hmong refugees currently in Thailand who fled Laos after the communist takeover of that country in 1975. The Hmong fought alongside the Americans. It has taken almost three decades for the U.S. to reach this decision.
: Singapore attends Proliferation Security Initiative meeting in Washington, becoming first Southeast Asia PSI participant.
: U.S. State Department criticizes Indonesia’s decision to appoint a controversial police general to head the police force in Papua province. Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen was indicted by UN prosecutors for his role in East Timor violence attendant upon the 1999 independence vote. Cleared by an Indonesian court, the UN indictment still stands.
: The U.S., Thailand, and Singapore begin 10th annual training Cope Thunder air exercise with a command post component in Singapore. Subsequent flying will occur in Korat, Thailand, in February, involving some 89 aircraft.
: Abu Sayyaf terrorist leader Galib Andany aka Commander Robot captured in the southern Philippines after a fire fight. The U.S. offered a $5 million bounty for his apprehension and for four other Abu Sayyaf leaders.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Hasan Wirajuda at a Jakarta CSCAP meeting, criticizes the war in Iraq as unilateral, arbitrary, and preemptive, the results of which have made the world more dangerous and exacerbated terrorist actions.
: U.S. and Vietnam sign aviation agreement that authorizes direct flights between the two countries.
: Thailand announces it will keep its 433 medical and engineering troops in Iraq at least until March.
: U.S. military advisers are training a 500-man elite Philippine commando force whose sole mission is to counter the JI terrorist network in the country.
: U.S. plans to establish supply and air bases in Australia met with anger in Indonesia.
: Burma’s military government releases five top NLD leaders from house arrest.
: U.S. criticizes Burma for failing to crack down on money laundering and is requiring U.S. financial institutions to terminate correspondent accounts with Burmese banks.
: President Arroyo hints that U.S. forces may be invited to help the Philippine Army hunt down JI terrorists in Mindanao.
: Missile frigate U.S.S. Vandegrift arrives in Ho Chi Minh City for a four-day visit, the first Navy ship to visit since the end of the Vietnam War.
: Vietnamese Defense Minister Pham Van Tra meets Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in Washington, the first meeting in the U.S. since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
: UN envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, who is refusing to be freed from house arrest until 35 NLD colleagues are also freed.
: Malaysia deputy defense minister dismisses warning by the U.S. State Department to Americans about the dangers of travel in Sabah, Malaysia.
: Former top civil aviation administrator and navy reserve officer seize the control tower at Manila airport in protest against corruption, and are later killed by the Philippine police.
: Indonesian National Police chief reports that the U.S. State Department’s Security Service is training top-flight Indonesian police units in antiterror skills and upgrading their equipment.
: Indonesia extends martial law in Aceh for an additional six months. The U.S., Japan, and European Union issue statements of concern, which are dismissed as a prelude to “meddling.”
: The U.S. will supply Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air missiles to Thailand because of an “imminent threat” posed by Russian rockets offered to China and Malaysia.
: Abdullah Badawi is sworn in as Malaysia’s fifth post-independence prime minister. Mahathir Mohamad steps down after 22 years in power.
: 400 U.S. marines based in Okinawa arrive in the Philippines for exercises with Philippine troops.
: PM Mahathir brushes off a U.S. Senate threat to cut $1.2 million in military aid over his anti-Semitic remarks.
: The U.S. State Department’s biannual report on Burma states that the country has made little headway in combating illicit narcotics. Burma is the world’s second largest producer of opium and a massive producer of methamphetamines.
: A high-level Indonesian police official states the U.S. has agreed to transfer Hambali to Jakarta for prosecution after the U.S. completes his interrogation. No specific time frame is mentioned.
: President Bush visits Bali, speaks with moderate Muslim leaders and meets with President Megawati; then departs for Singapore, where he meets with PM Goh.
: President Bush in Bangkok designates Thailand “a major non-NATO ally” as a reward for its antiterror cooperation.
: President Bush in Bangkok berates Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir for his comment that Jews ran the world by proxy, labeling the prime minister’s remarks “divisive and wrong” and “squarely against what I believe in.”
: President Bush visits Manila, addresses joint session of Congress, meets President Macapagal-Arroyo, praises the Philippines as a “stalwart” ally in the war on terror, and pledges to support Manila’s five-year plan to modernize its military.
: Secretary of State Powell in Bangkok states that APEC must link security issues with trade and investment in an age of terrorism.
: U.S. and Thailand sign bilateral air cargo agreement.
: USTR Robert Zoellick praises China’s free trade agreement with Southeast Asia as a recognition that “China’s growth is a benefit to them.” He predicts that U.S. bilateral FTAs in the region, when aggregated, would be worth even more.
: President Bush launches his Asia trip with a statement that Indonesia cannot let its Islamic community be defined by religious extremists.
: In a speech at the Organization of Islamic Conference summit in Malaysia, PM Mahathir Mohamad makes anti-semitic statements suggesting the Muslim world unite against the Jewish people.
: In an interview with a Jakarta-TV channel, President Bush downplays Indonesian requests for direct access to Hambali and promises to share interrogation information.
: President Bush calls Philippine President Arroyo “a strong leader” with “a strong agenda to run on” in a seeming endorsement of her candidacy for reelection in 2004.
: According to the Miami Herald, the U.S. military deployed surveillance planes to determine if guerrilla forces in southern Philippine jungles posed a threat to U.S. counterterrorist trainers.
: Indonesian Police Chief Gen. Da’i Bachtiar says the U.S. will permit Indonesian authorities to question Hambali in the near future.
: Vietnam and U.S. agree to allow direct passenger and cargo flights between the two countries for the first time since the Vietnam War.
: U.S. Air Force pilots stationed in South Korea hold a two-week training exercise in Malaysia flying against Malaysian Mig-29s.
: The ASEAN Bali summit led to the “Declaration of ASEAN Concord II” composed of three major themes: an ASEAN Security Community (ASC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
: Philippine press reports that Manila will ask President Bush for 30 military helicopters and 30,000 M-16 rifles during the president’s Oct. 18 visit.
: Malaysian Deputy PM Badawi criticizes U.S. Customs for imposing new regulations on shipping containers without consulting shippers or governments.
: MILF spokesman denies that the MILF has ties to JI.
: Indonesian police demand direct access to captured JI terrorist Hambali in U.S. custody. While Washington has provided interrogation information, it has not yet permitted access by any Southeast Asian state to Hambali.
: In Congressional testimony, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Daley said U.S. economic sanctions on Burma had led to the closure of 62 mainly garment factories, throwing 60,000 women out of work.