US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2018 to Aug 2018

:   Indonesian Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacuda visits the Pentagon to discuss expansion of bilateral cooperation on maritime domain awareness.

: United Nations releases a report on the Rohingya refugee crisis, which maintains that the Tatmadaw had “genocidal intent” in the 2017 crackdown on Muslims in Rakhine State.

:   Trump administration announces new sanctions on Myanmar related to the August 2017 crackdown on Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine State.

:   US and Malaysian navies open the 24th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercises.

:   The 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) is held on the margins of the ASEAN meetings in Singapore.

:   Secretary Pompeo visits Jakarta; he meets President Joko Widodo and discusses bilateral cooperation under the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership.

:   Secretary Pompeo attends his first ASEAN Regional Forum in his new capacity, and co-chairs the US-ASEAN Ministerial meeting.

:   Secretary Pompeo visits Kuala Lumpur in advance of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore and meets Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.

:   Secretary of State Pompeo delivers speech before the Indo-Pacific Forum of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, outlining the economic aspects of the US vision of an Indo-Pacific community.

:   White House issues a statement heavily criticizing general elections in Cambodia, calling them “neither free nor fair.”

:   Leading an international rescue team, Thai officials in Chiang Rai province evacuate the last of 12 members of a youth soccer team, with their coach, who had been trapped in an underground cave for 17 days.  The US Department of Defense provided 42 military personnel, who assisted in planning and logistics and helped transport the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system.

:   US and Philippine naval forces conduct maritime training activity Sama Sama at Naval Station Ernesto Ogbinar in the Philippines.  The engagement features fast transport ship USNS Millinocket and includes air defense, diving, and search and rescue.

:   Secretary of State Pompeo visits Vietnam and meets senior officials, including Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

:   State Department releases the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report.  Thailand is upgraded from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2, while both Malaysia and Myanmar are downgraded (to the Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3, respectively).

:   Vietnam makes its debut in the 26-nation Rim of the Pacific Exercises (RIMPAC), which also included Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand.

:   The 13th Annual Pacific Partnership Mission concludes after several weeks.  Among the participants were the United States and five Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore).  Focusing on humanitarian aid, the mission completed 765 host country activities.

: Pentagon hosts fifth US-Vietnam Dialogue on Maritime Issues and Law of the Sea in Washington.  Washington and Hanoi will rotate in as new co-chairs of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus Working Group on Maritime Security in 2020.

:   Singapore hosts high-profile summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un.  Singapore was selected as a venue, in part because the island city-state could provide a high degree of security.

:   Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi when she visits Washington.

:   Secretary of Defense Mattis meets with several counterparts from Southeast Asia (Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam) at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.  Mattis also meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.  Conspicuously lacking from the agenda was a bilateral meeting with Thailand, an acknowledgement that security relations have not been normalized after the 2014 coup in Bangkok.

:   US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in Honolulu, on the margins of the change of command ceremony at US Pacific Command.

:   The Trump administration bars officials from Myanmar’s Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population and the Ministry of Home Affairs from receiving B1 or B2 visas to enter the US because of Myanmar’s refusal to accept the return of their nationals under final order of removal from the US.

: US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) removes seven state-owned enterprises and three state-owned banks in Myanmar from the Specially Designated Nations (SDN) list, leaving few Myanmar banks under OFAC sanctions.  At the same time, six companies linked to the former regime are added to the list.  On balance, these measures reflect US acknowledgement of progress in administrative reform in Myanmar.

:   The 22nd US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue is convened in Washington.  Although the two countries continue to disagree on a number of issues, including an appropriate role for political dissidents, the dialogue has continued uninterrupted since its inception.

: State Department issues a statement in concert with calls from the Netherlands and Australia to hold Russia accountable for its role in the July 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, causing the deaths of 298 civilians.  Despite urging from the Washington, ASEAN declines to join efforts to hold Moscow accountable.

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