US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Oct 2004 to Dec 2004

: President Bush announces that the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India will form an international coalition to lead relief efforts after the devastating Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami that claimed more than 150,000 lives. The U.S. has already pledged $35 million and sent its navy to help the aid effort.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Foreign Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar condemn the terrorist attack on the U.S. consultate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but the foreign minister insists that these despicable actions are a reaction to developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Palestinian issue.

: Six hundred U.S. Marines from Okinawa and other U.S. specialists in the Philippines for joint exercises extend their stay to assist Philippine armed forces in relief operations after typhoons in northern Luzon left 168,000 residents homeless.

: Philippine President Arroyo, pleased about the unexpected 6 percent Philippine growth rate this quarter, thanked the Philippines’ major trade partners and singled out the U.S.

: Thai army proposes that 2.2 billion baht be spent on new M16-A4 rifles and 12 used Cobra attack helicopters from the U.S.

: Based on an Indonesian government report, Jakarta decides to prosecute the U.S. gold mining company, Neumont, for polluting Bayut Bay in North Sulawesi.  In October, U.S. managers of the company had been arrested but were later released.

: Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan, abducted by a pro-Taliban group in Afghanistan in late October, is released unharmed. U.S. authorities worked closely with Manila to secure his release and that of two other hostages.

: U.S. nominates Philippines to chair APEC counterterrorism task force.

: Indonesian Minister of Manpower and Transmigraiton Fahmi Idris urges Indonesian workers not to work at U.S. military installations in Persian Gulf states because their safety cannot be guaranteed.

: Secretary of State Powell meets Thai counterpart Surakirat Sathirathai on the sidelines of the annual APEC meeting and remains noncommital on a U.S. endoresement of the Thai foreign minister’s bid to be the next UN secretary general.

: Commander of U.S. marines in the Pacific, Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, meets Indonesia Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Bernard Kent Sandakh to discuss enhanced cooperation.

: The United States scales back participation in the “Talon-Vision-05” joint military exercise in Luzon because of commitments in Iraq.  Held annually since 2001, this year only 70 U.S. marines from Okinawa are involved.

: U.S. announces it is monitoring hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the Philippines because of a corruption scandal involving a Philippine general.

: The Philippines announces it will receive 30 helicopters from the U.S. during the next six months and additional military assistance over the next six years.

: Philippine military detains three Mindanao-based militants accused of plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Manila.

: State Department spokesman Richard Boucher denounces deposed Burma Gen. Khin Nyunt’s successor, Lt. Gen. So Win, as the officer responsible for the May 2003 attack on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s caravan in which 70 people are said to have died.

: Singapore defends its anti-money laundering policies after a State Department report lists the country as a hub for financial crime.  The report acknowledged Singapore’s anti-money laundering efforts but noted that large-scale money laundering continued.

: Burma’s military junta ousts Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt on corruption allegations, though outside analysts see his removal as a power play by generals who opposed Khin Nyunt’s reforms.  A State Department spokesman lamented what he saw as a further retreat from “political and human rights.”

: On his website, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir urges U.S. Muslims to vote President Bush out of office for policies that have caused “oppression and humiliation” to Muslims throughout the world.

: U.S. political counselor in Kuala Lumpur states that Washington’s Regional Maritime Security Initiative was not a “stalking horse” for U.S. naval patrols in the Strait of Malacca but a capacity building measure for law enforcement agencies.

: With a good luck message from President Bush, Australia’s Liberal Party Prime Minister John Howard wins a rare fourth term in elections.  He had sent combat forces into Iraq with the U.S. invasion but withdrew most of them soon after.  Fewer than 200 Australian forces are in Iraq today, mostly securing the Australian embassy.

: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce congratulates Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on his election as president of Indonesia.

: Sen. Mitch McConnell criticizes Japan for funding 28 new assistance projects for Burma worth more than $18 million.  McConnell argues Japan should join the U.S. and EU in economic sanctions against the repressive Burmese junta, not aid it.

: King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, 81, announces that he has abdicated, ending a reign of 63 years.  Claiming to have been marginalized by a “Kafkaesque kingdom,” the king’s abdication requires that a nine-member Throne Council arrange for a successor.  The country’s constitution does not mention abdication.  Sihanouk’s youngest son, Prince Sihamoni, was selected the new king.

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