Regional Overview

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.

: Japan sends advance team of 23 Japanese air force personnel to the Middle East to prepare for its troop deployment.

: U.S. announces that it will send 60,000 metric tons of humanitarian food aid to North Korea.

: The ROK Cabinet approves dispatch of 3,000 troops to the northern oil town of Kirkuk, Iraq as early as April.

: Russia offers to write-off 65 percent of Iraq’s $8 billion debt after Baghdad signals that Moscow was in a good position to revive prewar oil contracts.

: Bank of Korea calls for curbs on foreign ownership in the country’s financial sector and urges the government to slow bank privatization and find local investors.

: Japan announces plans to purchase U.S.-made missile defense system and to conduct a review of Japan’s defense capabilities.

: President Putin announces he will seek a second four-year term next March and dismisses suggestions he would change the constitution to stay longer.

: PM Koizumi approves dispatch of 1,000 troops to Iraq.

: President Roh announces that the ROK will send 3,000 troops, including 1,400 combat soldiers, to assist coalition forces in Iraq.

: North Korea announced complex regulations for those who would do business in its Kaesong Industrial Zone.

: Two Chinese hotel workers sentenced to life in prison for organizing Sept. 2003 orgy involving hundreds of Japanese tourists.

: Singapore and Canada attend their first Proliferation Security Initiative meeting in Washington.

: North Korea formally rejects U.S., Japanese, and South Korean proposal for ending its nuclear program.

:   The U.S., Thailand, and Singapore begin 10th annual Cope Thunder air exercise with a command post component in Singapore.  Subsequent flying will occur in Korat, Thailand, in February, involving some 89 aircraft.

: President Megawati visits Malaysia.

: World Food Programme issues appeal for $171 million to offset a drop in contributions for the DPRK.

: At Japan-ASEAN regional summit, PM Koizumi announces a $3 billion aid package and promises to work with the region to bolster security ties, liberalize trade, and create a broad economic partnership.

: President Chen says he will proceed with referendum as planned; later calls on U.S. to adhere to its values and support Taiwan democracy.

: Japanese Cabinet approves sending troops to Iraq.

: U.S. bars French, German, and Russian companies (and other non-supporters of the war) from competing for $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

: A 10-member European Union delegation visits the DPRK to discuss human rights issues and the nuclear weapons crisis.

: Bomb explodes in Moscow near Red Square, killing six.

: KCNA: “What is clear is that in no case the DPRK would freeze its nuclear activities unless it is rewarded.”

: President Chen announces topics for “defensive referendum” to be held March 20.

: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits the U.S., President Bush describes U.S. and China as “partners in diplomacy”; Bush states “We oppose any unilateral decision by China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.”

: U.S., Japan, and South Korea reportedly reach agreement on joint statement for ending North Korean nuclear program.

: North Korea demands that the normalization of its ties with the U.S. be included in the draft of a joint statement for the next round of six-party talks.

: United Russia, a party backed by President Vladimir Putin, wins elections for lower house of Russian Parliament.

: Suicide bombing on commuter train in southern Russia kills at least 40 people and injures 170.

: ROK Parliament overturns President Roh’s veto of an independent investigation into the election funding scandal.

: U.S and Vietnam sign five-year aviation agreement.

: Thailand announces it will keep its 433 medical and engineering troops in Iraq at least until March.

: PLA Gen. Peng says Chen is taking Taiwan “to brink of war,” says PRC will “pay any price” to prevent independence.

: TCOG meets in Washington to prepare for next round of six-party talks.

: NSC’s James Moriaty makes discreet visit to Taipei with message from Bush.

: Two South Korean civilian contractors are killed in Iraq.

: DPRK describes the suspension of the KEDO project as overt defiance and demands compensation.

: Two Japanese diplomats are killed in ambush near Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

: Taiwan Legislative Yuan adopts restrictive Referendum Law proposed by opposition coalition.

: Burma releases five top NLD leaders from house arrest.

: KEDO’s executive board officially declares one-year suspension of $4.6 billion nuclear power plant project in DPRK beginning Dec. 1.

: ROK farmers protest against WTO trade liberalization of the Korean rice market.

: Koizumi Junichiro re-elected as Japanese PM.

: U.S Navy frigate USS Vandegrift visits Ho Chih Minh City, Vietnam, the first visit by a U.S. ship since the Vietnam war.

: The Philippine Supreme Court rules funds of nearly $700 million held by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Swiss banks must be given to the government.

: Secretary Rumsfeld describes DPRK as an “evil regime,” during visit to U.S. troops at Osan Air Base.

: Japan announces intention to sign ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

: Secretary Rumsfeld visits Seoul for U.S.-Korea Consultative Meeting. A joint communiqué affirms the solidarity of the alliance, calls on the DPRK “to completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons programs,” and  reaffirms the realignment of U.S. forces in the ROK

: Secretary Rumsfeld visits Japan, including Okinawa, where he is lectured by Gov. Inamine.

: Defence Secretary Rumsfeld meets with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Van Tra, in Washington.

: PM Koizumi’s coalition wins with a reduced majority in Diet elections. The opposition Democratic Party makes significant gains.

: 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.

: 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.

: Philippine Armed Forces discovers new territorial markers with Chinese inscriptions on several unoccupied reefs and shoals in the Spratly Islands; monitors two PLA navy vessels operating since September near Mischief Reef.

: 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.”

: Chen and Secretary Powell shake hands in Panama, drawing PRC protest.

:   Second annual Bo’ao Forum for Asia held on Hainan Island, China.

: Abdullah Badawi is sworn in as Malaysia’s fifth post-independence prime minister.  Mahathir Mohamad steps down after 22 years in power.

: President Chen transits N.Y., receives human rights award.

: President Chen proposes referendum law.

: Japanese students performance at Xian Northwest China University sets off Chinese protests.

: USTR Zoellick and Commerce Secretary Evans visit Beijing; Evans says China is moving “far too slowly” in its transition to an open, market economy.

: The U.S. Senate votes to restrict military aid to Malaysia in response to PM Mahathir’s anti-Semitic statements.

: China’s No. 2 leader Wu Bangguo visits North Korean leader Kim Jong-il who agrees “in principle” to continue to hold six-party talks.

: Chinese Ministry of Defense Cao visits Washington.

: U.S. congressional visit to DPRK is postponed because of White House opposition.

: DPRK ready “to consider” a U.S. proposal of written guarantees not to attack Pyongyang in return for Pyongyang ending its nuclear weapons program.

: North Korea says it is willing to accept President Bush’s offer of security assurances if they are based on the “intention to coexist” and the U.S. offers “simultaneous actions.”

: A Moscow court orders Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of Russian oil company Yukos, to be held without bail, following charges of defrauding the state.

: President Hu visits Australia, addresses Parliament.

: Madame Chaing Kai-shek dies in New York at 105.

: Two PLA Navy ships arrive in Guam for a four-day goodwill visit.

: President Bush visits Sydney/Melbourne, meets PM John Howard and addresses the Australian Parliament.

: President Bush visits Bali, speaks with moderate Muslim leaders and meets with President Megawati; then departs for Singapore, where he meets with PM Goh.

: North Korea rejects U.S. offer of written multilateral security assurances, calling it “laughable”; reportedly test fires another short-range missile.

: PM Koizumi and President Putin agree in Bangkok to fast-track talks on the feasibility of an oil pipeline through Nakhodka.

: Pyongyang test-fires a short-range missile.

: APEC leaders’ meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

: Tokyo announces its intention to send noncombat troops to Iraq.

: 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 military modernization.

: ROK announces it will send additional troops to Iraq, but “will decide on the number, characteristics and timing of the dispatch after considering the U.S. request and public opinion.”

: President Bush visits Bangkok; attends APEC Leaders’ Meeting; holds bilateral meetings with President Roh and Chinese President Hu Jintao, among others; designates Thailand a “major non-NATO ally.”

: East Timor PM Mari Alkatiri asks the UN to extend its presence and for donor countries to reject aid reduction proposals.

: President Bush visits Tokyo, meets with PM Koizumi.

:   President Bush launches his Asia trip with a statement that Indonesia cannot let its Islamic community be defined by religious extremists.

: KCNA: “When the time comes, the DPRK will take steps to physically display its nuclear deterrent force.”

: In a speech at the Organization of Islamic Conference summit in Malaysia, PM Mahathir makes anti-semitic statements.

: China successfully launches its first taikonaut, Yang Liwei, into orbit on board the Shenzhou 5.

: Japan announces Iraq aid package of $1.5 billion.

: Putin leaves Moscow on a 10-day trip to Malaysia, Thailand, and Kyrgyzstan.

: Human Rights Watch calls for the immediate removal of six senior Indonesian military officers for gross human rights violations in Aceh.

: The 12th inter-Korean ministerial talks are held in Pyongyang.

: North Korea strongly criticizes U.S. for efforts to impose international sanctions and maritime monitoring of North Korean shipments; U.S., Japan, and ROK meet to discuss future of KEDO.

: North Korean abductees mark one-year anniversary of their return to Japan.

: Over 2,000 people including Australian PM John Howard attend ceremony marking the anniversary of the 2002 bomb attacks in Bali.

: ROK President Roh rejects resignations offered by his Cabinet and members of his staff and vowed to pursue some form of referendum to test his mandate.

: In annual Taiwan National Day address, President Chen calls for a new constitution, by 2006.

: The PRC rejects DPRK’s call for Japan to be dropped from six-party talks.

: U.S. and Vietnam conclude comprehensive air services agreement.

: PM Koizumi announces the dissolution of the Lower House of Parliament.

: The IMF agrees to lend Indonesia the second tranche ($493 million) of its  $5.2 billion loan program.

:   Joint declaration on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity signed at China-ASEAN “Plus One” meeting in Bali.

: DPRK rejects Japanese participation in future multiparty talks, U.S. rejects the rejection.

: ASEAN, ASEAN Plus Three, and separate Plus-Three summits held in Bali; ASEAN leaders sign “Bali Concord II” to create an ASEAN free trade zone and common market in 2020.

: ROK Beijing embassy temporarily suspends consular operations due to the large number of DPRK refugees seeking asylum.

: President Chen Shui-bian issues strong condemnation of China, further declaring Taiwanese “walk our own road, our own Taiwan road.”

: The ROK announces that China has officially become Korea’s No. 1 export destination, surpassing the U.S. for the first time.

: JDA chief states that Japan is not dispatching Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq because it was requested to do so by the U.S., but because Japan’s interests are involved.

:   DPRK claims to have successfully finished the reprocessing of some 8,000 spent fuel rods; states “We (have) no intention of transferring any means of that nuclear deterrence to other countries.”

:   Bali bomber organizer, Ali Ghufron, sentenced to death by firing squad.

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