US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2012 to Aug 2012

: Washington Post reports that US Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell has asked the Burmese government to make public prison and court records so people can get some idea of how many political prisoners remain incarcerated.

: Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro announces that the US has offered 10 F-16 combat aircraft to Indonesia.  If accepted, they would form a second squadron of F-16s in the Indonesian Air Force.

:  Bangkok Post reports that Thai Defense Minister Sukumpon Suwanat was asked by the Burmese military to seek US permission to observe the Cobra Gold exercise.

: Visiting US Congressman David Dreir urges Malaysia to join the US-led Tans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), emphasizing the importance of Malaysia-US trade and investment.

: US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney states that the provision of a visa to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin had no bearing on Thai domestic politics but was done according to US laws and was not a political issue.

: Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yosin states that China has replaced the US as the number one destination for exports, thus reducing Malaysia’s dependence on a weakened US economy.

: US inaugurates its first Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam at a former US air base in Danang.  The cleanup is funded by USAID with a budget of $43 million and has a scheduled completion date of 2016.

: State Department issues a statement criticizing Bangladesh for closing non-governmental relief organization efforts to support Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who are seeking safety in Bangladesh.

: US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus visits Singapore, praising strong naval ties between the two countries.

: Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visits the US.  However, his visa precludes a stop in Washington, DC.  Thaksin meets supporters in New York and Los Angeles, though some opponents also protest his visit.

: State Department posts a press release supporting ASEAN’s July 20 Six Point Statement on the South China Sea and urging ASEAN and China to proceed toward a Code of Conduct and seek cooperative arrangements to manage South China Sea resources.

:   US Congress extends a ban on imports from Myanmar, seeking to maintain pressure despite recent Myanmar reforms that have prompted the easing of other sanctions.

: State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism finds “no direct evidence” that militants in southern Thailand have links to international terrorists.  The report urges Thailand to improve its suppression of money laundering which funds terrorist operations.

:   Singapore, Thai, and Indonesian air forces participate with their Australian and US counterparts in the biannual air combat exercise, Pitch Black, held in Darwin, Australia.  The exercise involves 2,500 personnel.

:   Six senators introduce a resolution in the US Senate urging China and the members of ASEAN to make progress toward developing a legally binding Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.

:   The 18th Singapore and US CARAT Exercise is held in the South China Sea.  Singapore and US navies and air forces plus US Coast Guard and Marines participate.

: US Pacific Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear visits Manila and meets President Aquino and senior foreign and defense officials.  He pledges US assistance to build a Philippine “minimum credible defense posture.”

:   US Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats accompanies a US-ASEAN Business Council delegation to Myanmar.

: Vietnam Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh visits the US to discuss legacies of the Vietnam War, particularly unexploded munitions and Agent Orange victims.

: The ASEAN Foreign Ministers fail to reach an agreement on a South China Sea Code of Conduct and for the first time in their 45-year history fail to issue a final communiqué at their annual meeting.

: At the ASEAN Regional Forum annual meeting in Phnom Penh, Secretary Clinton expresses support for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea currently being negotiated by ASEAN.

: The fifth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting takes place in Phnom Penh.  Secretary Clinton announces $10 million in funding for LMI as part of a new Asia Pacific Security Engagement Initiative.

: In a visit to Laos, Secretary Clinton promises aid to help neutralize millions of unexploded bombs dating back to the Vietnam War era.

:   The US announces the lifting of sanctions on Myanmar ending the prohibition of investments by US companies in Myanmar’s oil and gas.

: In Hanoi, Secretary of State Clinton reiterates support for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea disputes.

: The US Navy and Coast Guard join the Philippine Navy in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises – for the first time off the coast of Mindanao.

: US exempts Singapore from a law about to take effect imposing financial sanctions on countries still buying Iranian oil.

: US Senate confirms Derek Mitchell as the first US ambassador to Myanmar in more than two decades.

: The biannual RIMPAC exercises are held in and around the Hawaiian islands with 22 countries participating.  The five original ASEAN members participate (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia); the most recent members (Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar) do not.

:  The US and New Zealand sign an agreement to expand defense cooperation though it does not alter Wellington’s 1985 ban on port visits by nuclear-armed US warships.

: Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro visits Vietnam, Brunei, and Thailand. He attends the fifth US-Vietnam Political, Security and Economic Dialogue in Hanoi.

: The US and Thailand hold a Strategic Dialogue in Washington.

: Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong visits Washington.  Secretary Clinton raises human rights concerns.

: The US expresses concern over the sectarian violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine states and urges restraint and an end to the attacks on the Rohingya people.

: Philippine President Benigno Aquino makes his third visit to the US, stopping in Washington, DC and Los Angeles.  He meets President Obama on June 8.

: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey visits the Philippines and meets counterpart Gen. Jesssie Dellosa to discuss regional security and the Mutual Defense Treaty.

: Secretary of Defense Panetta visits Vietnam, including Cam Ranh Bay where he addresses the crew of the USNS Richard Byrd in port for repairs.

: At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Washington would consider a defense relationship with Burma if it continues on the path to democratic reform.  He also reviews US defense policy toward Asia.

: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones states that the US Government will send 300 English language teachers to Malaysia under a bilateral education cooperation agreement.

: The US Navy supply ship USNS Richard Byrd docks at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, for a two-week refitting visit.

: US and ASEAN officials meet in Manila to discuss security cooperation, trade, and investment.

: The Obama administration lifts most of the economic sanctions on Myanmar, opening the way for US investors for the first time in decades.  Yangon’s foreign minister is present in Washington for the announcement.

: President Obama nominates his special envoy to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, to be the US ambassador.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visits the US to promote business ties between the two countries.

: Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario claims the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US covers territories west of the country where Scarborough Reef is located.

: Philippine government releases a statement that the US will double foreign military financing to Manila in 2012 from $11.9 million to $20 million and provide real-time surveillance information on intrusions in Philippine territorial waters.

: A 2+2 Meeting between the US and Philippine foreign and defense secretaries is held in Washington.

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