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Chronology of Major Events 2003

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Chronology of Major Events 2003
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Chronology of Major Events 2003

United States

Strategic Profile

28 January: In his State of the Union Address, the US President George W. Bush argued that the gravest danger facing America and the rest of the world was “outlaw regimes” that sought and possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

19 February: The 18-member Defence Planning Committee of NATO agreed to deploy AWACS early warning aircraft, Patriot air defence missile systems and chemical-biological response units in southern Turkey, a likely launch pad for any US-led strikes on Baghdad.

16 March: The US President George Bush met the Prime Ministers of Portugal, Britain and Spain at an air force base in the Portuguese island of Azores and sought global support to drive the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power.

18 March: The US President George Bush gave a 48-hour deadline to the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his sons to leave Iraq.

20 March: The United States launched cruise missiles and conducted intense artillery barrages at the start of the campaign to overthrow the regime of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

7 April: The US National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, met the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, and other officials in Moscow in a visit to mend ties frayed over the US action on Iraq.

9 April: US troops entered Baghdad ending Saddam Hussein’s 24-year rule, on the 21st day of the war.

11 April: The US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the UN could not be in charge of the administration in Iraq.

14 April: The US President George Bush got a $80 billion package passed by Congress, which included $62 billion for the Pentagon for the war in Iraq and against terrorism, $4 billion for homeland security, $2.2 billion for police and emergency services, and $8 billion for foreign aid, mainly related to security concerns.

7 May: The US President George Bush appointed the former diplomat and counter-terrorism expert, Paul Bremer, as the Special Representative in Iraq.

13 May: In the deadliest attack on Americans since the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York, seven Americans were among the 91 people killed in synchronized strikes on three housing complexes in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

2 July: The US cut off military aid to about 56 countries that refused to sign immunity deals exempting American citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

14 August: Following the resignation and departure of President Charles Taylor from Monrovia, Liberia, US marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Monrovia.

20 August: The US State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, dispelled the notion that the planned military exercises in the Coral Sea were focused on North Korea. He stressed that the interdiction manoeuvres were within the agreed framework of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

27 August: The head of the IAEA, Mohammed El-baraedi, told the German weekly Stern that double standards were being followed by the United States on non-proliferation, with its continuing research into the so-called “mini-nukes”, to be used as bunker-busters.

16 September: An anti-proliferation military exercise, the “Exercise Pacific Protector”, was held off the Australian coast under the US-led “Proliferation Security Initiative” (PSI), with Australia, Japan, the US and France participating, and Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom sending observers.

20 September: At a five-day meeting of the US-Pakistan Defence Cooperation Group (DCG), which concluded in Washington on 18 September, the US gave a commitment to Pakistan to consider its requests for more security assistance, particularly in maintaining conventional capabilities and enhancing counter-terrorism capabilities.

23 September: The US President George Bush and the Russian President Vladimir Putin at Camp David called on Iran and North Korea to stop their suspected nuclear weapon programmes.

2 October: The US State Department re-designated 25 terror outfits as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. These included the LTTE, the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, al-Qaeda and Hamas.

3 October: In another blow to the Bush Administration, the Chief Weapons Inspector, David Kay, said in his initial report to the Congress that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq even if there was “possible evidence” of covert programmes.

16 October: The US House of Representatives voted 398-4 on the Syrian Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Act. The Act seeks to sanction Syria for its alleged ties to terrorist groups, among other things.

18 October: The US Congress approved overwhelmingly the US President George Bush’s supplemental funding request for Iraq, of $87 billion he had asked for.

23 October: Concluding his tour of Asia-Pacific countries in Canberra, Australia, the US President George Bush stated that America would continue to maintain a formal military presence in Asia.

4 November: The US Senate approved an $87-billion military and reconstruction package for Iraq and Afghanistan.

12 November: The US Senate voted by a 89-4 margin in favour of punitive measures against Syria for its links to terror outfits, for its continuing troop presence in Lebanon and for pursuing programmes of weapons of mass destruction.

4 December: The US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, after talks with the newly elected President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, confirmed Washington’s resolve to expand defence cooperation with the oil-rich republic.

10 December: In a directive from the Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon formally barred companies from countries opposed to the Iraq war from bidding on the $18.6 billion worth of reconstruction contracts.

Relations with India

6 January: The Director, Policy Planning Staff, US Department of State, Richard Haass said in New Delhi that the US would continue to consult India closely on Iraq.

16 January: The two-day talks between India and US on missile defence concluded in New Delhi with both sides reviewing the latest developments in US missile-defence policies as well as Indian views on missile defence.

4 February: The US earmarked $53.35 million for India in the 2004 budget presented by President George Bush to Congress. This was one-sixth of what the administration allotted to Pakistan, which amounted to $326.25 million.

6 February: The US Under Secretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster and India’s Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal signed in Washington the Statement of Principles that would serve as the framework for advancing high-technology trade between the two countries.

14 February: Union Commerce and Law Minister Arun Jaitley met the US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and the EC Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy in Tokyo, on the sidelines of the WTO mini-ministerial conference, and made a commitment to phase out textile quotas and to integrate multilateral trading regimes by 31 December 2004.

25 February: Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee talking to reporters on the sidelines of the 15th NAM Summit at Kuala Lumpur, said that India cannot support the American war moves on Iraq.

27 February: The US and India resumed cooperation on nuclear safety after the May 1998 nuclear tests, with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard A. Meserve visiting the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Tarapur nuclear facilities.

21 March: The US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Christina Rocca, told a Congressional Sub-Committee on Asia-Pacific that ending infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir was a key goal of the Bush administration.

9 May: India’s National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra at the American Jewish Committee’s Annual Dinner in Washington called for joint efforts by India, the US and Israel to combat terrorism and said that democratic countries should form a viable alliance against terrorism.

10 May: The US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, after meeting Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, told press persons that it was for India to assess Pakistani actions and intentions on the issue of cross-border terrorism.

22 May: According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the US has dropped its objections to the transfer of the Israeli Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) technology to India.

9 June: After meeting the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani told presspersons that the question of India contributing troops for the stabilization of Iraq was under consideration of the Government of India.

9 June: The Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, accompanied by the Director, Intelligence Bureau, Mr. K.P. Singh, and the US Attorney General John Ashcroft exchanged views on issues pertaining to different aspects of terrorism, particularly the implementation aspects of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and Extradition.

10 June: At a meeting between the US President George Bush and the Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani at the White House, issues of cross-border terrorism and the possibility of sending Indian troops to Iraq as part of the stabilization-cum-peacekeeping operations were discussed.

12 June: At the re-launch of the US-India Council Dialogue in Washington, the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Arun Jaitley, affirmed that there was a lot of scope for furthering cooperation in the realm of trade, investment and services.

12 June: The US Embassy, in a statement issued in New Delhi, announced that the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) will provide a $10 million technical aid for development of the Indian insurance sector over the next four years.

13 June: The US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, admitted that Pakistan had not stopped cross-border terrorism against India. He also denied that Washington was putting any pressure on New Delhi to send its troops to Iraq.

13 June: The US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick gave an assurance to the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Arun Jaitley that the Bush administration was totally opposed to anti-outsourcing bills and would try to resist legislations, coming out of some states in this regard.

1 July: The founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Democrat Frank Pallone, urged the US President George Bush to keep the proposed $3 billion aid package to Pakistan limited to the economic component and to impress upon Islamabad to move towards democracy and stopping cross-border terrorism.

3 July: The Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, in Washington to attend the first meeting of the High Technology Cooperation Group, co-chaired on the American side by the Under Secretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster, told presspersons that the two sides had a robust dialogue on involving the private sector in a range of high-tech areas like information technology, life sciences, nano technology and defence technology.

10 July: The first batch of the Rs. 800 crore deal to procure Raytheon-made Fire Finder radars arrived in New Delhi.

14 July: After a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting in New Delhi, India decided not to send its troops to Iraq under American or British command.

29 July: The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, addressing presspersons in New Delhi after meeting the National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, and the Chief of Army Staff, N.C. Vij, said that the US was confident of militarily suppressing resistance to the Anglo-American combine in Iraq.

8 August: At the fifth meeting of the Defence Policy Group (DPG) led by Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad on the Indian side and Under Secretary for Defence Douglas Feith on the US side, in Washington, India and the US agreed to step up cooperation in the realm of defence issues.

4 September: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) pledged a $4 million grant for community-based disaster planning and management in 20 multi-hazard prone districts of Orissa, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttaranchal and Assam.

9 September: India and the US reportedly began discussions on a second major defence deal involving the US Orion P-3 planes since sanctions were lifted in 2001.

17 September: India and the US intensified talks to expand bilateral cooperation in high-technology sectors two days before the arrival of Prime Minister Vajpayee in Washington. The talks included civilian nuclear energy, non-military space programmes and commercial technologies that could also be put to military use.

22 September: Addressing the Indian-American community at the Jacob-Javits Convention Centre in New York, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee asked them to set up a “political action group” that would project and lobby New Delhi’s point of view on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.

24 September: The US President George Bush described Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee as a “man of peace”, during a luncheon meeting between the two leaders.

7 October: The US Embassy in New Delhi announced scrapping of visa-issuance fees for students, exchange visitors, transit and crewmen of Indian nationality.

17 October: The US State Department designated Dawood Ibrahim as a global terrorist, linking the underworld don to al-Qaeda and also pointed out his role in “funding attacks by Islamic extremists aimed at destabilizing Indian government”.

17 November: The US Under-Secretary in the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce, Kenneth Juster, addressing a meeting organized by the CII-Southern Region in Chennai, opined that India should fulfil its responsibility of bringing down barriers to market access faced by high-tech US goods.

24 December: The US State Department re-designated the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Muhammad as “foreign terrorist organizations”. The initial designation was to expire on 26 December.



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