US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2013 to Aug 2013

:  ADMM+ meets in Brunei with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in attendance.  Hagel invites all 10 ASEAN defense ministers to meet in Hawaii next year.

:  Secretary Hagel visits Manila to discuss increasing US troop presence with Philippine counterpart Voltaire Guzman.

: Secretary of State Hagel travels to Asia with stops in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Philippines. While in Brunei he participates in the second ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+), the security ministerial input for the East Asia Summit.

:  US Trade Representative Michael Froman attends the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, which has become the unofficial economic track of the East Asia Summit.

:  Cambodia cancels or postpones military cooperation programs with the US and other countries that have challenged Phnom Penh’s recent disputed election.

:  A second Hamilton-class former US Coast Guard cutter joins the Philippine Navy.  Provided gratis, Manila spent $15 million to add updated weapons and communications.

:  Secretary of State Kerry sends a congratulatory message to ASEAN on its 46th anniversary, noting that the “the United States stands with you as a steadfast partner.”

:  US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, visiting Malaysia, states that President Obama sees the country as a “strong partner” and an important partner in strengthening US relations with ASEAN.

:  Philippine Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario announces that the US will raise its military assistance next year by two-thirds from $30 million to $50 million.

: Vice President Biden visits Singapore, emphasizing the positive effect of the US presence in Southeast Asia’s prosperity and stability.

:  Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang visits Washington at the invitation of President Obama to discuss bilateral and regional issues.

:  Vice President Joe Biden at George Washington University delivers a speech prior to his trip to India and Singapore, emphasizing that the Asia-Pacific rebalance includes both sides of the ocean – Asia and Latin America.

: US and Singapore hold their annual CARAT exercises, focusing on maritime warfare capabilities and involving 1,400 personnel.  It is the first Singapore CARAT involving the littoral combat ship USS Freedom.

:  Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, after US State Department pressure, pardons exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsey, allowing him to return to Cambodia in time for the July 28 general election, although he is subsequently barred from seeking election.

:  US Treasury Department sanctions a Myanmarese general in charge of military procurement for continuing to purchase military equipment from North Korea – a practice prohibited by US law and UN Security Council resolutions.

: Secretary of State Kerry attends his first ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers Meeting followed by the annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei.

:  The US and Philippine navies hold their annual CARAT exercises which includes an exercise off the coast of Zambales province near the China-occupied Scarborough Shoal.  The exercise emphasizes interoperability and involves desk top as well as sea maneuvers.

:  Defense Secretary Voltaire Guzman states that Manila can allow the United States, Japan, and other allies to use Philippine bases to help the Philippines roll back China’s extensive claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

: Myanmar bans the July 1 issue of Time magazine because its cover article attributes anti-Muslim violence to Buddhist terrorism.  The cover features the photo of a controversial monk accused of encouraging the violence.

: US State Department’s annual trafficking in persons report contains a blistering indictment of Thailand for the fourth consecutive year for corrupt officials engaging in sex trafficking as well as protecting sweatshops.

:  Gen. Do Ba Ty, chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, visits the Pentagon and meets Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, the first such high-level visit nearly 40 years after the Vietnam War.

:  US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in Manila discusses security issues with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Guzman and Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista.

:  US State Department annual report on persecution of minorities criticizes the Indonesian government for failing to prevent attacks and apprehend those responsible for the destruction of one of the country’s two remaining synagogues.

:  ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus group, including the US, carries out a humanitarian assistance exercise involving over 2,000 personnel from 18 countries in Brunei.

:  Littoral combat ship USS Freedom takes part in a CARAT exercise with Malaysia.

:  US Pacific Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge visits Malaysia’s Port Klang for four days, its first port call in Malaysia since 2008.

:  Malaysia’s naval chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar states that the US Navy’s presence in Asia has a “positive impact” and helps maintain peace and stability.

:  US and Cambodia conduct an air transport exercise with a number of other countries participating.  The biannual exercise includes air drops of humanitarian aid.  US Ambassador William Todd affirms the exercise is part of the US rebalance.

:  At the 12th annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reassures Asia that the US would maintain its “decisive military edge” in the region.  He also invites ASEAN defense ministers as a group to meet in Hawaii in 2014.

: US and Indonesia conduct annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises, involving four Indonesian and three US ships and 4,000-5,000 personnel.

:  Myanmar’s President Thein Sein meets President Obama who, while praising the country’s political reforms, states that it must release more political prisoners and take steps to end ethnic violence against Muslims.

:  State Department’s annual report on religious freedom voices alarm at the lack of “any improvement in religious freedom” in Myanmar.

: Soldiers from Idaho National Guard engage in a joint peacekeeping exercise with elements of the Cambodian Army.  This is the fourth joint effort begun originally in 2000.

:  Joint statement is released by the 26th ASEAN-US Dialogue in Washington. Discussions include political-security, economic, and socio-cultural issues and attendees include senior officials of all member states and the ASEAN Secretariat.

:  Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaipul visits Washington with talks emphasizing security ties.

:  US lifts a sweeping ban on visas for Myanmar officials, further easing sanctions despite the increase in ethnic violence.  Nevertheless, Washington extends Myanmar’s “national emergency status” because of continued human rights problems.

: US Defense Department report to Congress notes that Myanmar has still not stopped the import of weapons from North Korea.

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