Regional Overview

Chronology from Jun 2008 to Oct 2008

:   The seventh annual Council of the SCO Heads of Government (prime ministers) meets in Astana, Kazakhstan.

: Japan agrees to a U.S. position that other countries can shoulder Japan’s share of energy assistance to North Korea.

: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he would advise the next president to seek a new nuclear arms agreement with Russia that provides for further reductions in nuclear warheads.

: Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet visits Russia and meets President Dimitry Medvedev on Oct. 27.

: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sign an agreement to turn contentious border areas into economic growth zones and jointly explore oil-rich offshore areas in the future.

: The foreign ministers of Thailand and Cambodia announce their countries’ border dispute has been peacefully resolved following a meeting between Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Somchai Wongsawat at the ASEM summit.

: The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit is held in Beijing with more than 30 heads of state in attendance.

: China and Singapore sign a free trade agreement (FTA).

: North Korea newspaper says that Japan should be removed from the Six-Party Talks since it impedes the denuclearization process.

: Cambodia postpones scheduled talks with Thailand to address recent clashes near the Preah Vihear Temple.

: Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets his Russian counterpart, Gen. Nikolai Makarov in Helsinki in an effort to move bilateral relations back on track.

: Thailand’s Supreme Court finds former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra guilty of a conflict of interest and dismisses the case against his wife involving a land deal she arranged. Thai prosecutors say they will ask for Thaksin’s extradition from Britain.

: Protesters in Taiwan assault ARATS Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing, drawing an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou and condemnation from Beijing.

: Indonesia becomes the final member of ASEAN to ratify the ASEAN Charter clearing the way for its formal adoption.

: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Aso. They sign a Japan-India Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.

: China announces a broad land reform plan that in theory will allow farmers to transfer or lease their land.

: Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), arrives for a visit to Taiwan.

: Japan is elected to a nonpermanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2009-2010.

: 48-member Diet delegation visits Yasukuni Shrine, but no members of Aso Cabinet participate.

: President Bush announces South Korea’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, which allows Korean citizens to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without visas.

: Generals from Thailand and Cambodia hold talks in an attempt to resolve the border dispute near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

: China announces a nationwide recall of all dairy products more than a month old in its latest effort to end a scandal over contaminated milk.

: Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchange rocket and rifle fire in a confrontation at their border over the disputed Preah Vihear temple. At least two Cambodian soldiers are killed, and several soldiers from both sides are wounded.

: North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chon meets Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

: Malabar 2008, a bilateral U.S.-Indian naval exercise, is conducted off India’s west coast.

: China’s State Council issues a directive for the Coast Guard and the fishery authorities to ban Chinese fishing vessels from entering “key sensitive maritime areas” along China’s eastern coast to prevent disputes with North and South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines over maritime boundaries from escalating further.

: Japanese Prime Minister Aso Taro criticizes the U.S. removal of North Korea from a terrorist blacklist and says Japan will not give aid to Pyongyang.

: Vice ministerial-level diplomats from the U.S., South Korea, and Japan hold talks in Washington to “discuss ways of bolstering cooperation on Northeast Asia and major international issues beyond the TCOG’s [Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group] agenda.”

: North Korea announces that it welcomes its removal from the U.S. terrorism sponsor list and that it would allow U.S. and UN monitors back into the Yongbyon nuclear complex as it resumes disabling its nuclear facilities.

: The U.S. announces that it has removed North Korea from State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee sign the U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.

: Japan extends sanctions against North Korea for another six months.

: North Korea threatens to restart its nuclear facilities and  bars IAEA inspectors from all facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, although they reportedly are still in their guesthouses on the premises.

: China’s Health Ministry issues new safety standards for dairy foods after melamine-contaminated milk products sickened thousands of babies.

: The Philippine Senate ratifies the Japan-Philippine Free Trade Agreement that was originally signed in 2006.

: President George W. Bush signs legislation to enact the U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement.

: The Philippines signs the ASEAN Charter.

: North Korea tests two short-range missiles off its west coast.

: South Korea conducts an international fleet review in the waters off Busan involving over 50 warships from the South Korean Navy and 12 other nations.

: Pentagon reports that China has postponed various military-to-military activities to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

: Vietnam and the U.S. conduct their first ever strategic dialogue in Hanoi, addressing political, security, defense, and humanitarian cooperation.

: Secretary Hill meets Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Dawei in Beijing to discuss the outcome of his negotiations with North Korean officials.

: The Bush administration notifies Congress of a $6.5 billion arms package for Taiwan.

: The Bush administration notifies Congress of a $6.5 billion Taiwan arms package.

: Assistant Secretary of State Hill meets South Korean counterpart Kim Sook to discuss Hill’s visit to Pyongyang for discussions concerning a verification protocol for North Korean denuclearization under the Six-Party Talks. Later, he meets his Japanese counterpart Saiki Akitaka for similar discussions.

: Military officers from the two Koreas meet in Panmunjom, the first official contact between the nations since Lee Myung-bak became president in February.

: U.S. Senate approves agreement permitting civilian nuclear trade with India, allowing the U.S. to sell nuclear fuel, technology, and reactors to India for peaceful energy use; India opens 14 civilian nuclear facilities to international inspection, but continues to shield eight military reactors from outside scrutiny.

: Christopher Hill, chief U.S. negotiator for the Six-Party Talks, visits Pyongyang for talks on nuclear disarmament.

: The Japanese government announces a six-month extension of economic sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s failure to reopen an investigation of Japanese abductees and its decision to restart nuclear processing at the Yongbyon complex.

: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill arrives in Seoul to confer with counterparts in the six party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs and prepare for an Oct. 1 visit to Pyongyang.

: APEC Disaster Recovery Workshop moves from Taipei to Sichuan.

: The USS George Washington arrives at Yokosuka Naval Station becoming the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be deployed in Japan.

: Cambodia’s Parliament re-elects Hun Sen as prime minister, extending his 23-year tenure, at a session boycotted by parties disputing the results of the July general election.

: Japan’s Parliament confirms the election of Aso Taro as prime minister.

: The IAEA announces that North Korea has expelled the UN monitors from its reprocessing plant at Yongbyon and plans to introduce nuclear material to the facility next week.

: Burma’s military government announces the release of 9,002 prisoners, including the country’s longest-serving political prisoner, Win Tin, and four people elected to Parliament in the landslide victory of opposition parties in 1990.

: “Workshop on Large Scale Disaster Recovery in APEC” opens in Taipei.

: The head of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Li Changjiang, resigns amid a scandal over toxic milk that has killed four children and sickened nearly 53,000.

: North Korea asks International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in Yongbyon to remove seals and surveillance equipment so they can “carry out tests at the reprocessing plant, which they say will not involve nuclear material.”

: Aso Taro is elected president of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party.

: The 63rd session of the UN General Assembly is held in New York.

: Indonesia-mediated peace talks between the Thai government and representatives of the Muslim community in southern Thailand conclude with both sides agreeing that “the settlement should be conducted peacefully through dialogue forums, and should be in line with the Constitution of Thailand.”

: North and South Korea meet in Panmunjom at the request of Pyongyang to discuss energy assistance to the North under the framework of the Six-Party Talks.

: The DPRK Foreign Ministry releases a statement that North Korea no longer wishes to be removed from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism List and confirms that it has begun reassembling the Yongbyon facility that can produce weapons-grade plutonium.

: Thailand becomes the eighth of ASEAN’s ten members to ratify the ASEAN Charter. Indonesia and the Philippines are expected to follow suit in October.

: Thailand’s Parliament elects Somchai Wongsawat as prime minister.

: Thailand signs an agreement to join Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in maritime patrols aimed at securing the Malacca Straits.

: Thailand’s Prime Minister Somchai says he is prepared to hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.

: China files an appeal at the World Trade Organization, challenging the ruling in favor of the U.S., European Union and Canada in a dispute over car parts.

: Thailand’s Constitutional Court rules that Prime Minister Samak violated the Constitution by accepting payments for appearances on cooking shows while in office, forcing him to resign.

: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s failure to appear at a military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea prompts speculation regarding his health and rumors that he has suffered a stroke.

: The White House formally withdraws an agreement for civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia from congressional consideration.

: The Nuclear Suppliers Group agrees to provide an exemption that permits its member states to engage in civil nuclear cooperation with India.

: Fukuda Cabinet approves Defense White Paper 2008, which cites concerns about the lack of transparency in China’s military build-up and Russian military drills close to Japan.

: Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej declares a state of emergency in Bangkok to put down a running battle between supporters and opponents of the government.

: The IAEA reports that it was informed on Aug. 18 that North Korea had suspended disablement of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

: Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda resigns.

: The Japanese government unveils economic stimulus package of $107 billion.

: Chinese President Hu Jintao pays state visits to South Korea, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Hu also attends the 8th annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on August 28 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

: The 39th annual Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting is held in Niue. Issues discussed include Fiji’s return to democratic rule, climate change, and Australia’s recently announced guest worker scheme. Frank Bainamarama, the interim prime minister of Fiji boycotts the meeting.

: South Korea and the U.S. stage a joint military exercise named Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, with about 10,000 U.S. troops participating. The South Korean Army takes charge of the exercise with assistance from the U.S. troops in preparation for the transfer of full control of Korean troops to Seoul in 2012.

: President Ma transits San Francisco en route to Taiwan from South America.

: In a ceremony marking the 63rd anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo expresses his country’s remorse for military aggression during the war and stays clear of the Yasukuni Shrine.

: After two days of talks described as being under the auspices of the Six-Party Talks, Japan and North Korea agree to reopen an inquiry into Pyongyang’s abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s

: President Ma Ying-jeou transits Los Angeles en route to Latin America.

: The Supreme Court of Thailand issues arrest warrants for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman after they fled to London instead of appearing before the Supreme Court to face corruption charges.

: The 2008 Olympics Games officially open in Beijing.

: In response to Georgian attacks on Ossetian separatists, Russian troops invade and occupy South Ossetia and from there launch attacks into Georgia proper.

: Presidents Bush and Lee Myung-bak meet in Seoul and issue a joint statement pressing North Korea to improve its citizens’ human rights, a rare mention of the North Korean human rights issue in a U.S.-South Korean joint statement.

: Mindanao peace talks collapse when the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front cancel the signing of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.

: President Bush visits South Korea, Thailand, and China. He and Mrs. Bush attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games on August 8.

: World Trade Organization negotiations in Geneva collapse when the U.S., China, India fail to resolve differences over protection for agricultural goods in developing countries.

: Cambodian National Election Committee announces that Prime Minister Hun Sen won nearly 60 percent of the vote in elections held on July 27 compared with nearly 21 percent for the nearest rival, the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party. International observers raise concerns about voter intimidation.

: The 15th ARF is held in Singapore. Disaster relief dominated discussions. Other topics included North Korea’s nuclear program, terrorism, the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, and the current food and energy crisis.

: North Korea signs the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) following the conclusion of the 15th ARF.

: Foreign ministers from the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan, North Korea, and Russia meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to discuss progress being made in the Six-Party Talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

: Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations along with South Korea, China, and Japan hold an ASEAN Plus Three meeting. Plans to carry out the joint statement adopted last year to promote economic, political and socio-cultural cooperation in East Asia are a key topic of discussion. After this meeting, the ministers were joined by Australia, New Zealand, and India for East Asia Summit informal consultations.

: The 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting is held in Singapore.

: Burma announces that it has ratified the ASEAN Charter.

: A WTO dispute panel confirms the judgment that China has violated fair trade rules by discriminating against imported auto parts, ruling in favor of the U.S. EU, and Canada.

: Japan announces new guidelines for school teachers that imply Tokyo’s territorial claim to the Dokdo/Takeshima islets. South Korea responds by recalling Ambassador to Japan Kwon Chul-hyun and reinforcing control of islets, saying it is reviewing whether to go ahead with diplomatic events with Japan.

: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak offers to resume dialogue and provide humanitarian aid to North Korea, but the move is overshadowed by the fatal shooting of a South Korean woman by a North Korean soldier at the tourist enclave at Mt. Kumgang.

: Six-Party Talks are held in Beijing after a nine-month hiatus. The four issues on the agenda are development of a verification and monitoring mechanism, an economic aid plan to North Korea, planning for a meeting of the six foreign ministers, and devising the framework for the “third phase” of implementation.

: The G8 summit is held in Hokkaido, Japan. The G8 leaders representing the U.S., Japan, Russia, France, Britain, Canada, Italy and Germany are joined by African leaders and the leaders of China, India and other rapidly growing economies.

: The Russian Duma approves the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Power Agreement or the so-called 123 Agreement, wherein the U.S. provides aid to help Russia dismantle its nuclear, chemical and other weapons.

: President Nambaryn Enkhbayar declares a state of emergency in Ulan Bator in response to violence following Parliamentary elections in Mongolia.

: Chinese officials meet representatives of the Dalai Lama in Beijing.

: Violence breaks out in Ulan Bator after the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party wins the majority of seats in Parliamentary elections.

: The first shipment of U.S. food aid promised in mid-May arrives in North Korea.

: North Korea and the World Food Program reach agreement on an extensive food aid distribution plan.

: RIMPAC, the world’s largest multinational naval exercise with more than 35 ships, six submarines, and 150 aircraft from more than 10 countries is held in the waters near Hawaii.

: North Korea destroys the cooling tower of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in what is described as a symbolic gesture to show its commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

: North Korea submits the declaration of its nuclear programs to China as the chair of the Six-Party Talks. In response, President Bush announces the lifting of the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act against North Korea, and notifies Congress of his intent to rescind North Korea’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

: President Bush signs a National Emergency Declaration, which reinstates many of the TWEA restrictions due to continuing proliferation threat from North Korea.

: U.S. resumes beef exports to South Korea despite intensified protests.  South Korean quarantine inspections restart as well.

: Secretary of State Rice visits Japan, South Korea, and China.

: China reopens Tibet to foreign tourists.

: The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Sazanami, carrying earthquake relief supplies, makes a port call in Zhanjiang, becoming the first Japanese warship to visit China since WWII.

: Top nuclear negotiators from the U.S. and South Korea separately meet Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, the Chair of the Six-Party Talks.

: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung pays an official visit to the U.S. and meets President Bush.

: Japan ratifies a free trade accord with ASEAN. Under the deal, about 90 percent of trade between Japan and ASEAN will be tariff-free within 10 years.

: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visits the U.S. and meets President Bush in Washington DC to discuss bilateral cooperation on a broad range of areas including ASEAN, Burma, counterterrorism, defense reform, food security, and regional economic integration.

: Nuclear negotiators from Japan, South Korea and the U.S. meet in Tokyo and reaffirm the need to push forward the Six-Party Talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

: Secretary of State Rice restates U.S. willingness to remove Pyongyang from the terrorist-sponsor list if it submits a full declaration of its nuclear activities.

: Japan and China announce an agreement to jointly develop a gas field in the East China Sea, resolving a protracted dispute over how to exploit resources in an area where their maritime border remains unsettled.

: The foreign ministers from South Korea, China, and Japan – Yu Myung-hwan, Yang Jiechi, and Masahiko Komura – meet in Japan and agree to build a formal channel for trilateral cooperation.

: North Korea Foreign Ministry issues a statement denouncing terrorism and its support of efforts to create a mechanism to counter terrorism and sponsors of terrorism.

: Prime Minister Fukuda meets with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Tokyo and the two governments issue a joint statement highlighting the security, strategic, and economic partnership between the two countries.

: The Six-Party Talks Energy and Economic Assistance Working Group meets in Panmunjom in an effort to speed up delivery of energy assistance to North Korea.

: Representatives from Japan and North Korea meet in Beijing to discuss bilateral relations. Following the meeting, North Korea announces that it would reopen an investigation into the past abductions of Japanese citizens and Japan announces that it would lift some sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its nuclear program.

: Japan PM Fukuda announces a new climate change policy that sets a goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions 60 to 80 percent by 2050 and pledges to contribute up to $1.2 billion to a new multilateral fund that will help developing countries fight global warming.

: Japanese frigate hits and sinks Taiwan fishing boat near Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands; Taipei and Beijing protest the incident.

: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calls for the creation of an all-inclusive Asia Pacific Community by 2020 to help the region maintain security, foster trade, respond to natural disasters and terrorism, and react more quickly to cope with changes brought about by rapid economic growth.

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