US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Sep 2012 to Dec 2012

: A senior Pentagon official states the US is poised to take “nascent steps” to train Myanmar officers in non-lethal skills such as humanitarian assistance and military medicine.

: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones presents a memento to the Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in recognition of the humanitarian assistance provided by Malaysian personnel in Afghanistan.

: Third US-Philippine Bilateral Strategic Dialogue is held in Manila.  Agreement is reached to boost US ship, aircraft, and troop rotations through the Philippines.

: State Department officials meet monks in Mandalay to discuss the government’s crackdown during the previous week on protests at the Latpadaung copper mine.  They also talk about sectarian tensions in Arakan state against the Muslim Rohingyas.

: At the US-ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the “US-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement Initiative” (E3) is launched to expand trade and investment ties.

: President Obama visits Myanmar, highlighting Washington’s support for the country’s democratic transition. The trip is the first-ever to the country by a sitting US president.

: The ASEAN heads of government initial the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration – years in negotiation – stipulating the individual to be the focus of human rights, though providing each state with implementation authority based on its national situation.

: Myanmar naval officers visit the amphibious assault ship USS Bonnehomme Richard in the Andaman Sea – the first such military contacts in decades.

: The 21st ASEAN Summit, ASEAN dialogue partner meetings, the 15th ASEAN Plus 3 Summit, and the 7th East Asia Summit are held in Phnom Penh.

: President Obama visits Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

: President Obama visits Thailand, the first stop on his three country Southeast Asian trip.

: Reaffirming military ties with Cambodia, Defense Secretary Panetta also deplores the Hun Sen government’s continued human rights abuses.

: Secretary Panetta attends the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in Siem Reap.

: US lifts restrictions on most imports from Myanmar prior to President Obama’s visit to the country.

: Secretary Panetta and Thai counterpart sign a new joint defense declaration for the 21st century, the first such document since 1962.

: Secretary of State Clinton visits Singapore.

: Thailand and the US release a Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-US Defense Alliance that outlines the goals for what is described as a 21st century security partnership.

: Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Panetta begin an Australia-Southeast Asia visit in Perth to strengthen security relations in the region.

: US State Department issues a statement urging Laos to delay construction of a huge dam on the Lower Mekong River until environmental impacts can be assessed and the other riparian states consulted.

: US Marines and elements of the Brunei Land Forces conduct a CARAT exercise, focusing on urban training against hostile forces in buildings.

: A bipartisan Congressional group sends a letter to President Obama urging him to condemn human rights violations under Hun Sen in his forthcoming trip to Cambodia.

: US State Department condemns a Vietnamese court decision sentencing two musicians to prison for writing and distributing protest songs, one of which criticized the government for not taking a harder line against China in their South China Sea disputes.

: US State Department, responding to the killing of Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, urges “both sides [Muslims and Buddhists] to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks.”

: Indonesian police arrest 11 terrorist suspects who were planning to attack the US Embassy in Jakarta among other Western targets.  The suspects had collected explosives and a bomb-making manual.

: Cambodian and US naval forces conduct their second Carat exercise – the first occurring in 2010.  Training covers maritime interdiction, salvage operations, and disaster response.  Civic action projects on land are also scheduled.

: Off the coast of Vietnam, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington welcomes Vietnamese officials to witness live firing exercises.

: Senior defense officials from Thailand and the US meet in Washington for US-Thailand Defense Strategic Talks.

:  Reuters reports that the US, Thailand, and other participants in the annual Cobra Gold military exercises will invite Myanmar as an observer at the 2013 annual joint maneuvers.

: Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner meets Myanmar ministers for a human rights dialogue.  Aung San Suu Kyi also attends.

: Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, 89, dies in China.  His body is repatriated to Cambodia on Oct. 17.

: Cambodian authorities threaten US government’s Voice of America and Radio Free Asia with unspecified legal action for being anti-Cambodia and favoring opposition parties.  A VOA spokesman says the stations value free speech and objectivity in their broadcasts.

: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declares willingness to serve as president if the country’s constitution is amended to permit her to become a candidate.  President Thein Sein says he could accept her in that office if the people of Myanmar supported her.

: The annual joint Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) is held in various locations in the Philippines.  Both sides state the scenarios are not directed at a China contingency, though US Marine Corps Gen. Craig Timerberlake states the training is designed “to respond to issues, [including] national security.”

: The aircraft carrier USS George Washington exercises with the Malaysian Navy and Air Force.

: The initial company-size rotation (200-250) of US Marines completes their deployment in Darwin, Australia.  Company-size rotations are scheduled to continue through 2013.  It will be several years before larger contingents up to 2,500 will be deployed.

: The Philippines hosts the Third ASEAN Ministers Forum in conjunction with the first expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum, an affiliate of the East Asia Summit.  All 18 EAS members are represented.  Maritime security is a primary focus.

: Meeting President Thein Sein in New York, Secretary Clinton announces that the US will begin lifting the decade-long ban on imports from Myanmar.

: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attends a dinner hosted by President Obama on the 180th anniversary of US-Thai relations. She states that Thailand is ready to cooperate with the US as a strategic partner.

: Myanmar President Thein Sein arrives in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.

: The State Department says the US is “deeply troubled” by convictions of three Vietnamese bloggers who were sentenced to jail for criticizing their government – a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

: US Pacific Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Scott Swift visits Brunei to promote defense relations.  Discussions include US Navy participation in the inaugural Military Medicine and Disaster Relief Exercise next year under the auspices of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus.

: US Congress passes legislation supporting lending from international financial institutions to Myanmar, reversing a ban based on concerns that loans would benefit the previous military junta.

: The US lifts a 26-year ban on the visit of New Zealand warships to US Coast Guard and Navy bases around the world as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visits Wellington.

: The US removes sanctions against Myanmar President Thein Sein, permitting US citizens to do business with him.

: Third annual US-Indonesia Joint Commission Meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is held in Washington. The US agrees to sell eight Apache gunship helicopters to Indonesia.

: Aung San Suu Kyi receives the Congressional Gold Medal and has a private meeting with President Obama.

: Three hundred protesters against the US-made video insulting Islam leads to the temporary closure of the US Consulate in Medan, Indonesia’s third largest city.

: Hundreds of Muslim protesters burn US flags in the southern Philippine city of Marawai, triggered by a video made in the US that mocks Islam.

: Police fire tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of protesters around the US Embassy in Jakarta protesting the US-made video insulting Islam.

: Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves for a 17-day trip to the US.

: Thailand sends a condolence letter to the US on the killing of the US ambassador to Libya in Benghazi.

: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemns the killing of US diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.

: Singapore government condemns the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi leading to the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and other US diplomats.

: Secretary Clinton becomes the first US secretary of state to visit Timor Leste (East Timor) since its independence from Indonesia 10 years ago.

: Secretary Clinton visits Brunei.

: Jakarta Globe Online reports that Secretary Clinton expressed support for Indonesian mediation in Southeast Asia toward creation of a South China Sea code of conduct.

: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Indonesia and says that China should start discussions with ASEAN to develop a code of conduct on the South China Sea and that the ASEAN states should present a united front in those talks.

: Secretary Clinton in a joint press conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa supports Papua’s continued inclusion in the Unitary Republic of Indonesia but condemns ongoing violence there.

: A US Navy P-3C surveillance aircraft joins the Philippine Coast Watch 2012 exercise that incorporates the Philippine Coast Guard and maritime police.

: The 20th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader’s Meeting is held in Vladivostok.

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