Regional Overview

Chronology from Oct 2007 to Dec 2007

: Japanese PM Fukuda Yasuo goes to China in a visit that the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said “is of great significance for advancing sound and stable relations between China and Japan.”

: Representatives from South and North Korea and China meet in Pyongyang to discuss energy and economic assistance to the North in return for disabling of its nuclear facilities. During the meeting, Hyon Hak-Pong, vice director general of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, states that because economic compensation pledged by the U.S., South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia “is being delayed,” North Korea has “no option but to adjust the speed of the disablement process.”

: The People Power Party claims victory in the first Thai elections since a 2006 military coup, but fails to win an absolute majority of seats, making a coalition government a necessity.

: India and China conduct a joint military exercise China’s province of Yunnan. It involves just over 100 officers and men from each side. The Chinese describe the training as aimed at “deterring the ‘three evil forces’ – separatists, extremists and terrorists – and promoting the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity between China and India.”

: Lee Myung-bak is elected president in South Korea.

: Sung Kim, director of the Korea Desk at the U.S. State Department visits North Korea to discuss the declaration of its nuclear programs. According to sources, North Korean officials repeatedly denied the existence of a uranium enrichment program during the visit.

: Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis destroyer Kongo succeeds in intercepting a mock ballistic missile warhead with an SM-3 missile as part of missile defense system test carried out at sea near Hawaii.

: South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that North Korea responded verbally to the personal letter from President Bush to Chairman Kim Jong-il saying the North “appreciates President Bush’s letter, will fulfill its obligations and expects the U.S. to perform what it has to do.”

: Australian Prime Minister Rudd delivers papers to the UN ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the U.S. as the only advanced economy outside the treaty.

: China-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue is held in Beijing. The high-level talks focus on issues such as trade integrity, product safety, balanced economic development, and energy and environmental cooperation.

: Christopher Hill delivers a personal letter from President Bush to Kim Jong-il that urges North Korea to fully declare their nuclear programs.

: Thirteenth UN Climate Change Conference is held in Bali, including a ministerial-level meeting Dec. 12-15. The conference was extended by a day enabling delegates to reach an agreement on a “roadmap” for dealing with climate change.

: Kim Yang-gon, director of the United Front Department of the DPRK’s Workers’ Party, visits Seoul and meets President Roh.

: The 10th EU-China summit meeting is held in Beijing.

: Chinese destroyer Shenzhen makes the first port call by a Chinese naval vessel in Japan call since the Communist Party came to power in 1949.

: Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, visits China, Japan, South, and North Korea to discuss the North Korea disarmament process.

: South and North Korean defense ministers meet in Pyongyang to establish military guarantees needed to carry out cross-border projects set by the Korean summit leaders in October. Seoul’s five-member delegation includes officials from the defense, unification, and foreign affairs ministries while Pyongyang’s five-member team is comprised of only military personnel.

Nov. 25-27, 2007 French President Nicolas Sarkozy makes his first visit to China.

: Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet visits Japan, the first visit by a head of state from the communist country to its largest aid donor and one of its leading foreign investors. He was joined by key ministers and more than 100 business executives.
Nov. 26-27, 2007: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visits Washington.
Nov. 27-29, 2007: A team of officials and experts from five nations in the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear development conduct on-site inspections to check the country’s work on disabling its nuclear facilities.

: Kevin Rudd leads his Labor Party to victory in Australian parliamentary elections.

: ASEAN and European Union leaders meet and endorse a five-year plan to enhance security and trade ties while urging Myanmar’s military junta to speed up democratic reforms and release the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

: China refuses the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier and accompanying ships entry to the port of Hong Kong for a Thanksgiving holiday visit, and later reverses its decision on humanitarian grounds.

: East Asia Summit Leaders Meeting is held in Singapore. The 16 countries adopt a special statement on climate change urging the development of sustainable planning and management of the region’s forests, improving forest law enforcement, and fighting illegal logging and other harmful practices.

: ASEAN Plus Three leaders meet in Singapore.

: The13th ASEAN Summit and related meetings are held in Singapore.

: Japan PM Fukuda Yasuo visits the U.S. and meets President Bush.

: ASEAN defense ministers meet in Singapore and agree to engage defense establishments from friends and dialogue partners including the U.S., China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea “at a pace comfortable to all ASEAN countries.”

: Peace negotiators of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front meet in Kuala Lumpur and agree to begin formal talks in early 2008.

: Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh visits Seoul, the first party chief to visit in 12 years.

: North Korea PM Kim Yong-Il and South Korea PM Han Duck-Soo meet in Seoul to discuss implementation of a sweeping reconciliation pact signed by the North’s Kim Jong-il and the South’s Roh Moo-hyun. This is the first time in 15 years that the prime ministers of the two countries have met.

: New Zealand FM Winston Raymond Peters visits North Korea and meets Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

: The first US Navy warships (USS Guardian and the USS Patriot) to dock in northern Vietnam since the end of the Indo-China war visit the port of Haiphong.

: Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, visits Japan at the invitation of a Buddhist group to tour the famed Shinto shrine of Ise Jingu, visit local schools, and give speeches on spirituality. The visit was allowed on condition that he would not engage in political activities.

: At a working meeting in Shenyang, both Koreas plus China agree on details of energy and alternative aid to Pyongyang under the Six-Party Talks.

: North Korea expresses gratitude for U.S. help in ending a high-seas standoff with Somali pirates, describing the maritime collaboration as a “symbol of cooperation” between the two countries “in the struggle against terrorism.”

: Russia’s Parliament votes unanimously to suspend Russia’s compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty saying the U.S. and NATO were using the pact to undermine Russia’s defenses.

: South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon visits Canada and U.S.

: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visits China, South Korea and Japan.

: UN envoy Gambari visits Myanmar for his second round of talks. The junta rejects his proposal for three-way talks involving detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and what they term foreign or UN “interference” in their affairs.

: Burma orders the expulsion of UN country chief, Charles Petrie, after his office issued a critical statement urging the junta to heed the voices of protesters.
Nov. 2, 2007: Premiers from Russia, China, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization prime minister meeting in Tashkent.

: Nine-member U.S. team of nuclear experts arrives in North Korea to begin supervising the disablement of the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, which is expected to begin within a week.

: Japan orders its ships supporting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan to return home, after opposition lawmakers refused to support an extension of the mission, saying it violated the country’s pacifist constitution.

: Chinese government announces that it arrested 774 people over the past two months as part of a nationwide crackdown on the production and sale of tainted food, drugs and agricultural products.

: Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds formal talks with the Dalai Lama, becoming the first Canadian leader to ignore China’s warnings not to host the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

: Six-Party Talks Working Group on Energy and Economic Cooperation meets in Panmunjom. The agreement reached calls for providing 450,000 of heavy fuel oil and the renovation of conventional power production facilities in exchange for the disablement of North Korean nuclear facilities.

: North Korea Prime Minister Kim Yong-il visits Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos.

: Protests are held around the world against the authorities in Burma.  The global day of action marks the 12th anniversary of the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.

: The third ASEAN regional disaster emergency response exercise, (ARDEX-07) is held in Singapore. The purpose of the exercise series is to enhance the capacities and capabilities in joint disaster management operations.
Oct. 25, 2007: Former Philippine president, Joseph Estrada, is given a full pardon just weeks after he was jailed for life on charges of plunder. The pardon was granted under a policy of releasing prisoners who have reached 70 years of age and done in what his lawyers called the “national interest”.

: South Korea President Roh announces that South Korea’s military presence in Iraq will be extended for another year. However, the number of troops will be cut in half, from 1,200 to 600.

: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Japan for talks with Japanese counterpart Masahiko Komura on bilateral issues including a long-standing territorial dispute.

: The UN announces that the military government in Burma has agreed to allow the UN’s expert on human rights, Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, to visit after refusing permission for four years.

: South Korea and North Korea meet at Mt. Kumgang to discuss the South’s provision of energy and economic assistance as part of the Six-Party Talks agreement on the North’s denuclearization.

: Mongolian President Nambayrn Enkhbayar visits the U.S. During the visit, he signs an agreement setting up U.S. development aid through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an organization that provides assistance to developing countries that enact specific political and economic reforms.

: North Korea accuses South Korean warships of recent intrusions into its territorial waters, saying the actions were an attempt to undermine a recent accord aimed at easing tensions. A South Korean Defense Ministry official disputes and downplays the North Korean claim, saying, “It’s a routine claim. We don’t pay attention much to it.”

: Follow-on team comprised of 12 U.S. nuclear experts arrives in Pyongyang to negotiate specific steps in implementing the agreement to disable North Korea’s nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

: In an interview with International Herald Tribune, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian dismisses President Hu Jintao’s offer of a peace treaty with China saying it would be like agreeing to “a treaty of surrender.”

: Japan, U.S., and Australia conduct a joint military exercise in the East China Sea.

: President Bush meets privately with the Dalai Lama and bestows him with the Congressional Gold Medal in a public ceremony. China responds saying it is “strongly resentful” of what it calls a gross interference in its internal affairs.

: General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party Nong Duc Manh visits North Korea.

: President Hu Jintao makes a “solemn appeal” for a peace treaty with Taiwan at the opening of the Communist Party’s five-yearly Congress in Beijing while insisting that independence for the island would never be tolerated.

: Japan and North Korea meet in Shenyang for talks on normalizing relations.

: Airbus delivers the first super jumbo A380 to Singapore Airlines. The airplane has 50% more floor space than 747-400 and can carry up to 853 people.

:   In Thailand, UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari says that recent reports of dissidents arrested in Burma are “extremely disturbing” and calls on the junta to halt its crackdown immediately. Gambari travels next to Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, India, and China before returning to Myanmar.

: Burma rejects UN call for dialogue with the opposition saying it would follow its own plan to bring democracy to the country.

: Taiwan President Chen agrees to return as head of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, pledging to safeguard the island’s sovereignty and lead the party to election victory.

: U.S. and South Korea meet to resolve differences over beef imports with no agreement.

: The UN Security Council adopts a non-binding resolution drafted by the U.S., UK and France deploring Burma’s military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and calling for dialogue with the opposition.  This is the first time the UNSC has taken any formal action over Burma. The agreement came after China lifted its objections.

: Taiwan marks its national day with a military parade for the first time in 16 years. Fighter planes flew above the capital, Taipei, and 2,000 troops show off military hardware through the city. President Chen Shui-bian uses a speech to hit out at China’s “relentless military build-up”, labeling it as a threat to world peace.

: A team of nuclear experts from the United States arrives in North Korea to finalize a plan for disablement procedures with their North Korean counterparts.

:  Japan’s Cabinet extends economic sanctions against North Korea through April 13, 2008 to “keep up the pressure on Pyongyang over its abductions of Japanese nationals.”

: Burma’s military junta acknowledges that hundreds of Buddhist monks were detained during the pro-democracy uprising, but said most had been freed and only 109 remained in custody.

: President Roh and North Korea Leader Kim Jong-il sign a declaration for the advancement of inter-Korean relations, peace and prosperity at the close of the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang.

: Japan’s chief envoy to the Six-Party Talks says the U.S. will not remove North Korea from the State Sponsors Terrorism List unless progress is made on the Japanese abductee issue.

: Philippine President Macapagal Arroyo visits India.

: China confirms that all member states to the Six-Party Talks endorsed the joint statement drafted at the second session of the sixth round of talks held in Beijing Sept. 27-30.

: At least 4 Philippine Navy commandos and 10 Abu Sayyaf rebels die following an armed confrontation on Basilan Island.

: South Korea President Roh Moo-hyun travels to Pyongyang for the 2007 inter-Korean summit.

: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visits China and meets Chinese President Hu Jintao in Shanghai.

: State Department spokesperson announces the U.S. has endorsed the draft joint statement that sets out the second stage of North Korea’s denuclearization process.

: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari meets detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for a second time, hours after talks with military rulers.

: Thailand’s coup leader Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin is officially named a deputy prime minister two days after retiring from military.

:  UN Human Rights Commission opens a special session on Burma with European Union countries calling for condemnation of the military junta.

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