US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Jan 2005 to Mar 2005

: New U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. William J. Fallon voices apprehension about China’s military buildup and intentions toward Taiwan, while also promising “whatever assets we may have” in the Southeast Asian fight against terrorists.

: Magnitude 8.7 earthquake strikes Sumatra.

:   U.S. and British governments post new travel advisories about visiting the Philippines based on intelligence that Abu Sayyaf could engage in retaliatory attacks for the arrest of four of its members in a Manila police raid.

: Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono arrives in Washington to convince the U.S. to resume full military relations in consideration of Indonesia’s democratic development.

: Singapore agrees to install high-tech equipment at its ports within six months to detect nuclear and other radioactive material in a new counterterrorism agreement with the U.S.  Singapore is the first Southeast Asian country to do so.

: Indonesian court convicts alleged al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakar Bashir on one count of criminal conspiracy but acuits him of all terrorism charges related to the Bali, Jakarta Marriott, and Australian Embassy bombings.  The U.S. and Australia express deep disappointment with the verdict.

: Over 1,000 U.S. sailors are in Kamola, Thailand, helping to clear debris left by the tsunami and delivering supplies sent from Americans.

: Indonesia welcomes a U.S. plan to resume IMET for Indonesian forces.

: U.S. says UN peacekeepers are no longer necessary in East Timor.  Washington pays more than one-fourth of the peacekeeping costs.  UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has suggested a year’s extension of a scaled-back force.

: U.S. Embassy in Thailand releases 2004 annual State Department Human Rights Report, which criticizes Thailand’s human rights practices, particularly focusing on the government’s handling of separatist violence in the south.

: Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said the U.S. will remain engaged in Asia after meeting with Secretary Rice.

: Over 300 U.S. soldiers and 650 Filipino troops open Balikatan exercise in Quezon Province well away from Islamic insurgents in Mindanao but close to communist New People’s Army guerrilla zones.

: Former Presidents Bush and Clinton visit Banda Aceh and pledge additional recovery assistance.

: Former Presidents Bush and Clinton, representing the U.S., visit Thailand and PM Thaksin.

: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proposes to reinstate U.S. military training programs for Indonesian military officers.  The programs had been suspended since the 1992 and 1999 human rights violations committed by Indonesian soldiers during East Timor independence agitation and subsequent referendum.

: Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk on his website agrees with Cambodian PM Hun Sen’s condemnation of the U.S. for siding with three opposition National Assembly members whose parliamentary immunity was stripped.

: State Department condemns arrest of prodemocracy leaders by Burma’s military junta.  Prodemocracy groups were prevented from using Union Day to condemn the junta’s illegitimate rule.

: U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Christopher LaFleur criticizes Malaysia’s violations of intellectual property rights, saying the problem harms bilateral trade ties.  He said that Malaysia is one of the largest exporters of pirated products.

: U.S. almost triples tsunami relief pledge to $950 million, making it the largest government donor and the largest disaster relief pledge in U.S. history.

: Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln withdraws from the coast of Sumatra where it had been involved in tsunami relief operations since late December.  The Navy hospital ship USS Mercy arrives in Banda Aceh.

: U.S. criticizes Cambodian Parliament’s decision to lift parliamentary immunity from three opposition lawmakers.  One fled the country, another was arrested.  The effect is to intimidate the opposition and stifle criticism of Hun Sen’s government.

: Former President Clinton chosen by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to be his special envoy to countries affected by the South Asian tsunami.  The appointment was approved by President Bush.

: Japan invited by Thailand and the U.S. to participate in the Command Post portion of the annual Cobra Gold May exercise in Thailand.  The Command Post exercise is a peace support operation.

: Malaysia’s ruling party’s youth wing calls on all Muslim states to oppose U.S. military action against Iran, accused of developing nuclear weapons.

: Singapore announces the purchase of six advanced Sirkorsky S-70B naval helicopters for delivery between 2008-2010.  They will operate off the navy’s new French-built frigates and are equipped for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.

: Department of Defense team visits Australia to discuss missile defense cooperation.  Australia has not appropriated any funds for the program.

: Secretary Wolfowitz notes that President Yudhoyono cancelled his military leadership’s placement of a specific date for a U.S. military exit, citing the need for continued humanitarian aid.

: Secretary Wolfowitz backs U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) restoration for Indonesian military officers as a way of providing human rights education.

: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, observing the Aceh coastline from a helicopter, avers that quick response by the U.S. military to the tsunami disaster probably saved thousands of lives.  He also said that the U.S. goal is to end its military presence in Indonesia as soon as possible.

: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe says that Indonesia had “every right” to decide how long American forces are needed in Aceh and that an end of March deadline is “reasonable.”

: Indonesia asks all foreign troops to complete humanitarian missions by March 31. USS Abraham Lincoln leaves Indonesian territorial waters for international waters after Jakarta refused to permit it to continue training flights for its combat aircraft in Indonesian air space.  Aid flights from the carrier continue.

: Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly promises that the U.S. will provide full assistance in helping to create an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.

: President Yudhoyono and other senior government and military officials as well as Muslim leaders all say that Indonesians should put aside their political differences with the U.S. and welcome its humanitarian aid in Aceh province.

: In a meeting of tsunami donor nations, Powell turns over control for long- term aid from the core group the U.S. had formed (U.S., Japan, India, Australia) to the United Nations.

: Secretary Powell meets in Jakarta with heads of Asian states and donor countries to plan for relief flows and post-tsunami reconstruction.  He agrees to relax U.S. restrictions on spare parts for Indonesian C-130 aircraft needed to deliver supplies to hard-hit areas.

: Commenting on television coverage of U.S. service personnel providing aid in Banda Aceh, Secretary of State Powell states that, “it does give the Muslim world … an opportunity to see American generosity and American values in action.”

: Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Bush Sr. visit embassies in Washington of Asian states stricken by the tsunami to extend condolences and promise assistance.

: Philippine President Gloria Magapagal-Arroyo offers to place air marshals on Philippine Air Line flights to the U.S. and wants the U.S. to reciprocate for all U.S. flights destined for the Philippines.

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