US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Jul 2009 to Oct 2009

: Sen. Webb meets Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

: Detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi announces through her attorney that she is ready to help the military junta get the West to lift economic sanctions.

:   Speaking on the sidelines of the UN, Secretary Clinton announces a change in the Obama administration’s Burma policy to engage the military junta while still maintaining economic sanctions.

:   The U.S. drops charges against former Hmong Gen. Vang Pao, who was indicted in 2007 for planning to overthrow the communist government of Laos.

:   U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak expresses concern over the arrests of Vietnamese journalists and bloggers as efforts to “criminalize free speech.”  Sixteen U.S. Congress members co-sponsor a resolution calling on Hanoi to release imprisoned bloggers and respect internet freedom.

:  Defense Secretary Gates pledges to continue counter-terrorism cooperation with Philippine forces in Mindanao after meeting Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Jr. in Washington.

:   Philippine President Arroyo defends the presence of U.S. troops in Mindanao saying they help the Philippine armed forces but do not engage in combat.

:  The U.S. urges Burma to halt attacks on ethnic minorities in the country’s remote northeast region.

:  Three members of the U.S. House of Representatives meet with the Central Executive Committee of the Burmese opposition party – The National League of Democracy – in Rangoon to discuss human rights and the current political situation.

:  Sen. Webb meets Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi to discuss bilateral trade and the granting of General System of Preferences status to Vietnamese products.

:   The U.S. presides over a maritime security seminar involving officials from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines to discuss coordinating air and maritime patrols in overlapping spaces to curb smuggling and piracy.

:   U.S. Sen. James Webb meets Burma’s junta leader Gen. Than Shwe and obtains the release of convicted American John Yettaw.

:   The U.S. and the Philippines sign a military cooperation agreement for 2010, focusing on terrorism in Mindanao.  Aid will be provided to the Coast Watch South project.

:   President Obama condemns Burmese court sentence of Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional 18 months of home detention as violating “universal principles of human rights.”  The conviction will prevent her participation in a national election scheduled for next year.

: Bangkok’s Criminal Court says it does not have the authority to extradite Victor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, from Thailand to the U.S. on charges of offering to supply weapons to Colombian rebels. The Thai government and the U.S. appeal the ruling.

: Burma’s junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest by 18 months.

: A report compiled by Vietnam’s Defense Ministry and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation shows that more than one-third of the land in six central Vietnamese provinces remains contaminated with land mines and unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War period with 16.3 million acres yet to be cleared.

: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo meets President Obama in Washington where Obama says that he views the Philippines as the chief coordinator between the U.S. and ASEAN.

: President Obama extends sanctions against Burma that were due to expire, including a ban on gem imports.

: The latest Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey shows that President Obama’s election raised the approval rating of the U.S. to 73 percent, the highest since the Clinton years.

: The Philippine government suspends its military offensives against secessionists in Mindanao in an effort to restart negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

: Final results from Indonesia’s presidential election held on July 8 are announced and confirm that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won a landslide victory over his two opponents, capturing 61 percent of the votes and a majority in 28 of Indonesia’s 33 provinces.

: Secretary Clinton meets with representatives of the four riparian Lower Mekong basin countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam) to discuss water management policy – the first time the U.S. has been involved in Mekong River issues.

:  Secretary Clinton at the ASEAN Ministerial meeting in Phuket, Thailand, signs the Association’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a nonaggression pact, while declaring “The United States is back in Southeast Asia.”

: At the ARF meeting in Phuket, Secretary Clinton excoriates Burma’s human rights record, including its treatment of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

: Secretary Clinton meets Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Anuna at the ARF meeting and discusses progress toward the U.S.-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement and two Malaysians still held at Guantanamo. Clinton also says ASEAN should consider expelling Burma if Aunt San Suu Kyi is not released – a suggestion rejected by Anifah.

:  Secretary Clinton meets Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to discuss the U.S. diplomatic, strategic, and economic role in Asia.

:  The 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Post-Ministerial Conferences, and 16th ASEAN Regional Forum meet in Phuket, Thailand.

:  ASEAN foreign ministers denounce the Jakarta bomb attacks and express solidarity with Indonesia in its “fight against terrorism.”

: Suicide terrorists bomb the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta killing nine and injuring over 40, many of them foreigners.

: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemn the “senseless, outrageous” bomb attacks in Jakarta; and Clinton offers U.S. assistance.

: In the UN Security Council, the U.S. representative expresses skepticism that the Burmese junta will hold free, fair, and credible elections scheduled for 2010.

: Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta meets Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to discuss bilateral security cooperation.

:   U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume says the U.S. is monitoring the Indonesian presidential election in Aceh “at the request of the Indonesian government” and is not interfering in any way.

: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney states that any postponement of Philippine general elections, scheduled for May 2010, would cause concern in Washington.

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