US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Apr 2006 to Jul 2006

: U.S. UN Ambassador John Bolton questions the need for UN peacekeeping forces in Timor-Leste as recommended by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Bolton claimed the fight in Timor-Leste was “among politicians with rival security forces” and did not require a UN role. Australia currently leads a multinational intervention with support from Malaysia and New Zealand among others. Subsequently, the U.S. voted to extend the UN peacekeeping presence.

: The U.S. hospital ship Mercy ends its Philippine stay and continues its five-month deployment to bring medical and humanitarian assistance to Southeast Asia.

: ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong says the emerging East Asian community will not exclude the U.S. even as China seeks a larger role in Southeast Asia.

: Jemaah Islamiyah spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir is released from a Jakarta jail after serving 26 months for criminal conspiracy relating to the 2002 Bali and 2003 Marriott bombings.

: Vietnamese parliamentarians visit the U.S. to lobby Congress in support of Permanent Normal Trade Relations.

: The first U.S.-Philippine Security Engagement Board is held in Hawaii.

: In Jakarta, Secretary Rumsfeld and Indonesian counterpart Juwono Sudarsono have a testy exchange on what the Indonesian official saw as overbearing U.S. antiterrorist pressures on many countries. Secretary Rumsfeld rejected the allegation.

: The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam announces a $34 million grant to assist the country’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.

: Visiting Vietnam, Secretary Rumsfeld agrees to broaden defense cooperation, though no mention is made of U.S. navy port calls at Cam Ranh Bay.

: U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. William Fallon visits U.S. forces engaged in civic action programs in Mindanao. A few days earlier the U.S. hospital ship Mercy provided free medical services to local villagers in the area.

: State Department’s annual Report on Human Trafficking rates Myanmar and Laos at its lowest level with respect to human trafficking. Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia are also placed on a watch list of states that showed a significant number of victims; and the Philippines is removed from the list for improved law enforcement.

: At the Shangri-La Defense Ministers Conference, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld declares Iran to be “one of the leading terrorist nations in the world.” That coincides with State Department efforts to create a multilateral set of incentives with European partners to entice Tehran to give up its uranium enrichment program.

: The U.S. and Vietnam sign a bilateral market access agreement required for Vietnam’s bid to join the WTO.

: U.S. marine medical personnel from Okinawa establish a field hospital in the Indonesian town of Bantul devastated by the Yogyakarta earthquake.

: U.S. government gives a $500,000 reward to two Filipinos who helped capture an al-Qaeda-linked suspect implicated in a deadly ferry bombing. The reward came from the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program.

: The U.S. and Singapore navies launch the 12th annual Cooperation Afloat and Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with 11 ships, a submarine, and two aircraft. This year’s exercise focuses on maritime conventional warfare.

: President Bush offers $500,000 in emergency aid to Indonesia in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Yogyakarta. The amount rose to $5 million May 30 along with a promise of 100 medical personnel.

: Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest extended another year by Myanmar ruling junta.

: U.S. and Malaysia inaugurate senior officials dialogue on economic and security issues. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill attends the meeting in Putrajaya.

: State Department calls on Burma to release detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi when her house arrest expires this week. State also calls for reengagement by the ruling junta with all political actors.

: Adm. Roughead announces that a series of joint exercises are lined up in the Philippines that will include antiterrorism.

: The U.S. naval hospital ship Mercy docks in Manila to begin a four-week medical mission primarily in the southern Philippines. The Mercy is beginning a five-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific.

: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari is allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, raising hopes that she would soon be released from house arrest.

: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asks visiting Indonesian foreign affairs minister to convey thanks to President Yudhoyono for urging Iran to be a responsible member of the international community by insuring that its nuclear energy program is entirely peaceful and that Tehran would abide by its international obligations.

: President Bush renews sanctions against Burma for failing to take steps toward the restoration of democracy.

: Japan, China, India, and the U.S. pledge capability development assistance to the littoral states for maritime security enhancements in the Malacca Strait at ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Security Policy Conference.

: Bush administration renews financial and other sanctions against Myanmar after the junta extended the state of emergency under which it has ruled since 1997.

: U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce warns that Thailand’s political stalemate need to be resolved soon, or foreign investment could be negatively affected. The Thai Supreme Court invalidated the April election, and a new vote has yet to be scheduled.

: The 25th annual Cobra Gold military exercise takes place in Thailand with the U.S., Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan as participants.

: In Washington talks, Vietnam and the United States reach an agreement on the conditions for Hanoi’s accession to the WTO, which will occur later this year.

: Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Gary Roughead states the U.S. has no desire for a permanent presence in Southeast Asia or to infringe on Southeast Asian states’ sovereignty in any way.

: Indonesian President Yudhoyono offers to mediate between the U.S. and Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear program. The offer was made during Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Jakarta visit.

: Bush administration moves to resettle in the U.S. some of the Burmese refugees in Thailand, though many will remain in refugee camps because of stipulations in the Patriot Act that exclude anyone supporting terrorist or armed rebel movements.

: Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesperson says Hanoi has repeatedly asked the U.S. to remove Vietnam from a State Department list of “countries of particular concern regarding religious freedom,” stating Vietnam’s continued inclusion “fails to accurately reflect the situation of religious freedom in the country.”

: State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism states that there is no evidence of al-Qaeda involvement in Thailand’s southern Muslim terrorist activities.

: The annual U.S.-sponsored Symposium on East Asia Security opens in the Philippines with most Asia-Pacific nations represented. Emphasis is on the linkages between transnational terrorism and transnational crime.

: Malaysian International Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz states that any free trade agreement negotiated with the U.S. would not permit encroachment on Malaysia’s socio-economic goals. FTA negotiations are scheduled to begin in July.

: The Fourth Indonesia-U.S. Security Dialogue takes place in Washington, D.C.  U.S. technical assistance for Malacca Strait patrols is discussed.

: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen rejects U.S. request to send troops to Iraq in noncombatant roles.

: Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia signed a formal agreement to coordinate anti-piracy patrols along the Strait of Malacca.

: The United States freezes the funds of jailed Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakir Bashir and three other members of the militant network and is seeking to have their names added to a UN list of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. Bashir dismisses the action because he says he has no funds in the United States.

: An Indonesian arrested in Hawaii for smuggling weapons from the United States is a supplier of spare parts to the Indonesian army.

: House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert visiting Hanoi affirms multidimensional cooperation between the United States and Vietnam and support for concluding negotiations for Vietnam’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

: Thailand contracts to buy six special operations versions of the Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopter for maritime defense and disaster relief.

: Sixth Proliferation Security Initiative exercise takes place in Darwin, Australia simulating the air interception of WMD.  Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the U.S. participated in the three-day event, and 26 other countries sent observers.

: Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu arrives in Washington to discuss economic relations and announces the revival of the U.S.-Indonesian Trade and Investment Forum with Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. Pangestu encourages U.S. investors to come to Indonesia.

: Indonesia’s Special Forces (Kopassus) rejoins the U.S. Pacific Area Special Operations Conference after Washington lifted its military embargo.

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