Foreign Policy Blogs

Obama Comes to Southeast Asia And Other News

Jose Luis Guterres

Jose Luis Guterres

Asia U.S. President Barack Obama will make his first trip to East and Southeast Asia in November.  During his 8 day trip, beginning on Nov. 11, Obama will visit Japan, Singapore, China, and South Korea – in that order.  He will focus his speeches on the global economic crisis and global security.  He will spend most of the trip at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) summit in Singapore.  While there, he will meet with ASEAN leaders , including which is rumored to include Myanmar’s military junta.  Myanmar is  a country that the Obama Administration has shown recent interest in engaging for strategic reasons.  There will be additional focus paid to the North Korean nuclear issue, energy, and climate change.

East Timor – More stories of corruption in Timor Leste.  A report leaked from the East Timor’s Ombudsman’s office recommends the prosecutor general’s office open an investigation into the accusation that  Deputy PM Jose Luis Guterres gave his wife, Ana Maria Valerio, a job as counsel to the UN ambassador  and overcompensated her for the position.  This occurred in  New York in 2006; at the time, Guterres was foreign minister.  The current Foreign Minister Zacarias Albano da Costa was also mentioned as an accomplice.

In other news, East Timor will hold its first joint military exercise with the United States Navy and Marine Corp in an effort to increase the capacity of the nation’s armed forces.  The exercises will take place Oct 13 to 23.   Illegal fishing is considered the countries primary external security issue.  So I’m assuming they are learning to shoot poachers?  I doubt it.  What’s really going on?

Indonesia & Malaysia:  Indonesia wants to help reduce nationalist tensions between itself and Malaysia by hosting a dialogue on the history of both nations.  The dialogue will be organized by the Indonesian Historians Community (MSI) and the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in cooperation with the Malaysian Historians Community (MSM).  There will be over 100 cultural experts and historians from both nations in attendance. The groups wish to come to a consensus on historic fact and educate the population of both nations in the process.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy met  Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak  in Paris last week.  After their meeting they announced that France is making Malaysia a privileged partner, basically a go-to nation in Southeast Asia and a possible aid in engage Iran.  In return, Malaysia will get nuclear energy technology transfers out of the arrangement, while France might also be able to sell some Airbus planes.