US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Oct 2005 to Dec 2005

: At the request of the U.S., the UNSC hears a briefing on human rights abuses in Myanmar. Ambassador Bolton said, on the basis of the briefing, that the U.S. would “continue advocating Security Council scrutiny.”

: Singapore Ministry of Defense announces purchase of 12 F-15SG fighters to be the Republic’s next multi-role combat aircraft. Delivery is scheduled for 2008-2009.

: Thai Justice Minister denies U.S. media reports that the U.S. CIA operated a secret jail in Thailand for captured high-level terrorist suspects.

: Director of U.S. National Intelligence John Negroponte meets with President Arroyo and reportedly urges that the Philippines pass antiterrorist legislation against the growing threat of Jemmah Islamiyah training activities in Mindanao.

: U.S. embassy in Manila “temporarily” closes for security reasons.

: Philippine Defense Secretary Arelino Cruz, Jr. meets Secretary Rumsfeld in Washington while about 200 U.S. troops are in the southern Philippines conducting training and civic action programs.

: U.S. State Department denounces the “National Convention” of Myanmar’s military junta, calling it “neither a credible political process…nor a means for the national reconciliation.” It has no legitimacy to draft a constitution representative of the Burmese people.

: UN Security Council agrees to a U.S. proposal to hold a formal briefing on the situation in Myanmar – the first time the UNSC will discuss the political situation in that country. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton claims that Myanmar was seeking nuclear power capabilities, an allegation denied by Burmese authorities.

: Indonesian President Yudhoyono lifts an entry ban that had been placed on terrorism expert Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group. The president’s action is a rare example of his overriding the bureaucracy. The ban on Jones was creating international embarrassment for Indonesia.

: U.S., Thai, and Singapore air forces begin annual Cope Thunder air exercise with a two-day Command Post event. A follow-on flying exercise will occur in February 2006.

: State Department condemns Myanmar’s military junta for extending opposition leader and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest for 12 months.

: Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burn, citing national security interests, waives conditionality pertaining to Foreign Military Financing and defense exports to Indonesia, thus expanding bilateral military reengagement.

: Indonesia welcomes renewal of military ties with the U.S., broken after the 1991 Indonesian military shootings in East Timor. The ties have been restored to acknowledge Indonesia’s cooperation in the war on terror.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi, meeting President Bush on the eve of the APEC summit, urges the U.S. to be more even handed in its treatment of Muslims in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

: President Bush and Southeast Asian leaders congratulate Indonesia on the killing of Azahari, one of the region’s most wanted terrorists who built the explosives used by suicide bombers in Bali, the Jakarta Marriott, and the Australian embassy. Bush meets with six ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Busan, Korea.

: U.S. and Australian defense chiefs agree to enhance Southeast Asian counterterror cooperation, building on their work with Indonesia and the Philippines.

: U.S. and several ASEAN members led by Thailand call for an “enhanced partnership” on security and development issues at a meeting prior to APEC in South Korea.

: U.S. and Vietnam sign accord permitting the emigration of Vietnamese who had been unable to benefit from the U.S. humanitarian resettlement program before it ended in 1994. The U.S. will accept applications from Vietnamese citizens who would have been eligible for immigration under the earlier program.

: Singapore Armed Forces conduct first unilateral exercise at the U.S. Marines Training Center in 29 Palms, California. The exercise integrates the Singapore Air Force with commando ground forces and includes UAVs.

: In the U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue, Thai officials briefed U.S. representatives on the situation in the restive south, while U.S. officials affirmed this was Thailand internal affair, though Washington was ready to assist if requested.

: Secretary Rice releases the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom and mentions Vietnam as one of eight countries of “particular concern.” Hanoi condemns its inclusion.

: Thailand and the U.S. conclude a two-day “Strategic Dialogue” at which both sides agreed to encourage Myanmar toward democratization. While Washington supports sanctions, Bangkok prefers quiet diplomacy.

: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin denies there was ever a secret prison in his country where the CIA held terrorist suspects.

: U.S. Treasury Department freezes the assets of six Thai companies with alleged ties to Burmese drug traffickers linked to the United Wa State Army’s heroin and methamphetamine distribution networks.

: U.S. defense officials reveal Omar al-Faruq, al-Qaeda’s most senior operative in Southeast Asia, escaped from U.S. custody in July.

: Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo briefs U.S. Director for National Intelligence John Negroponte on the current Philippine political situation.  Negroponte praises Philippine reform and counterterrorist efforts.

: Vietnam demands that the U.S. remove it from a State Department blacklist of religious rights violators so as not to negatively affect the recent progress in bilateral relations. The list is produced annually as mandated by Congress.

: A U.S. Navy ship, Joint Venture, delivers humanitarian supplies to Mindanao for a U.S.-Philippine joint civic action effort.

: State Department expresses concern about Myanmar’s intimidation efforts toward the ILO office in Rangoon which received 21 death threats in August and September.

: Congressman James Leach, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, castigates Hun Sen’s government in Cambodia for human rights and press freedom violations.

: U.S. embassy in Jakarta issues a warning to avoid non-essential travel to Indonesia after the Oct. 1 Bali bombing. The last time a U.S. travel warning was issued was in May.

: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong, speaking at the PRC Higher Party School, reiterates his government’s position that Asia be open to all great powers, including the U.S., China, the EU, and Japan.

: Malaysian Defense Minister Najib Razak says that the U.S. could provide aircraft for the littoral states’ “Eyes in the Sky” anti-piracy patrol of the Malacca Straits but that the primary responsibility remains with the straits states.  So far, there are only two flights per week.

: U.S. backs Indonesian government plan to strengthen counterterrorism legislation.

: State Department bioterrorism expert Henry Crumpton in Manila urges Southeast Asian states to prepare for bioterror attacks from al-Qaeda-affiliated groups that have stated intentions to develop such weapons.

: On a tour to improve U.S. understanding of and image in the Muslim world, President Bush’s special envoy on public diplomacy, Karen Hughes, faces harsh questioning from Muslim women university students in Jakarta about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

: After Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen arrests activists for alleged defamation when they challenged Cambodia’s recent border demarcation agreement with Vietnam, the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh called on the Cambodian government to protect the constitutional right of freedom of expression.

: U.S. and Philippine forces begin a two-week war game called Talon Vision on the main island of Luzon. Its purpose its to improve interoperability in joint amphibious landings and other operations. U.S. forces are coming from Okinawa.

: Secretary Leavitt signs a cooperation agreement with Laos promising $3.4 million to control outbreaks of avian flu. Soon thereafter, he pledges another $7 million to assist Vietnam. U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce expressed concern that less developed Southeast Asian states may be unaware of a flu outbreak until it has already spread beyond the region.

: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt signs cooperation agreements with Cambodia and Thailand to combat a possible avian flu pandemic and pledged $1.8 million to each country for its efforts.

: U.S. and Philippine officials claim that one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings, Dulmatin, is hiding in Mindanao.  An electronics expert, trained by al Qaeda, he is believed to be with a group of militants from Abu Sayyaf and Jemmah Islamiyah.

: U.S. Charge d’Affaires Daryl Johnson denies that Washington plays any role in the political turmoil in the Philippines and reiterates U.S. support for President Arroyo’s government.

: U.S. posts an $11 million reward for information leading to the capture of Dulmatin and Umar Patek, suspects in the 2002 Bali bombing.  The reward is exceeded only by the $25 million offered for Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemns the terrorist bombings in Bali and reaffirms the “common fight against terror” with Indonesia.

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