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Chronology of Major Events 2009

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Chronology of Major Events 2009
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Chronology of Major Events 2009

United States

Strategic Profile

12 January: In a strong diplomatic signal to Pakistan, US imposed sanctions on AQ Khan and a dozen members of his worldwide illicit nuclear trade network including three companies.

20 January: General David Petraeus revealed that he had struck deals with Russia and several other Central Asian states to allow US to transport supplies to American troops in Afghanistan through their territory.

20 January: Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the first black to do so.

20 January: In his inaugural speech, President Barack Obama said no to new nuclear weapons, paused prosecutions in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, embraced alternative energy, pledged to re-evaluate Bush’s national missile defence programme and described the resurgence of al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the “greatest threat” to America’s security.

23 January: George J Mitchell was appointed as special envoy for Arab-Israeli affairs, and Richard C Holbrooke was appointed as special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan affairs.

13 February: US Congress approved a $787 billion economic stimulus measure. The House vote was 246-183, while in the Senate it was 60-38.

17 February: In his first significant move to change the course of conflict in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama approved adding 17,000 more American troops to fight the militants.

27 February: President Barack Obama ordered an end to US combat in Iraq by 31 August 2010.

1 March: In an interview to MSNBC, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that all terrorist networks have a safe haven in Pakistan to operate them.

6 March: In an interview to The New York Times President Barack Obama conceded that the US is not winning the war in Afghanistan and indicated that US troops could reach out to moderate elements in Taliban for reconciliation, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq.

29 March: While warning that the US expected much more accountability from Pakistan in rooting out extremism, US President Barack Obama said that America would go after high value targets after consulting Islamabad.

31 March: US offered Taliban fighters who renounce violence in Afghanistan an honourable form of reconciliation as a revamped strategy to tackle deepening insurgency.

1 April: In a significant diplomatic breakthrough, US president Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed to reopen talks on reducing their nuclear warheads.

18 April: US President Barack Obama pledged to seek a “new beginning” in ties with communist-ruled Cuba as a part of a new era of US partnership and engagement with Latin America and Caribbean.

4 May: In an effort to bring the ailing US economy back on track, President Obama announced an end to years of tax incentives to those companies which create jobs overseas in places like Bangalore. Instead, the incentives would now go to those creating jobs inside the US, in places such as Buffalo city.

7 May: Concerned over increasing influence of Taliban in Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the top leadership in Islamabad that the ‘era of lip service was over’ and it was now time to work plans and be very specific.

14 May: In a startling disclosure, US military, Pacific Command chief Admiral Timothy J Keating revealed that China offered to divide the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions between China and the US after Beijing launched its own fleet of aircraft carriers.

21 May: A powerful Congressional panel gave approval to the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement (PEACE) Act 2009 tripling aid to Pakistan, but imposed tough conditions that include prevention of ‘cross border attacks onto neighbouring countries’ by Islamabad.

4 June: In a landmark speech at Cairo reaching out to the Islamic world, President Obama called for a ‘new beginning’ between the US and Muslims, saying both sides should overcome the cycle of suspicion and discord, and that religious beliefs across the world were not inimical or exclusive to each other.

19 June: The US revealed that it had deployed anti-missile defences around Hawaii, following reports that North Korea was preparing to fire its most advanced ballistic missile in that direction.

2 July: The US launched the biggest military offensive under Obama’s presidency, Operation Khanjar or Strike of the Sword, which was intended to seize virtually the entire lower Helmond river valley, the heartland of Taliban insurgency and the world’s biggest opium poppy producing region.

7 July: President Obama on his two-day visit to Moscow said that America and Russia share common interests in building a secure, free and flourishing world. However, he rejected complaints about American support for missile defence and expansion of the NATO alliance into Eastern Europe.

6 August: President Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, said that the President had replaced the ‘global war on terror’ with a strategy more narrowly focused on Al Qaeda and relying more on a broader effort to engage the Muslim world.

17 September: President Obama shelved a Bush-era plan for Eastern European missile defence plan that had been a major irritant in relations with Russia. He said a redesigned defensive system would be cheaper, quicker and more effective against the threat from Iranian missiles.

22 September: During a meeting with President Obama at New York, China’s President Hu Jintao put forwarded four propositions on furthering bilateral ties – First, the two countries should maintain close top-level exchanges. Second, the two sides should strive to do a good job in completing the follow-up work of the first China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in July. Third, the two countries should deepen coordination and cooperation on major regional and international issues. Fourth, the two countries should step up cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

14 November:US President Barack Obama during his first nine-day trip to Asia from 12-20 November in a move for greater engagement with a vibrant Asia-Pacific region said that US was not threatened by a rising China. He also pledged to deepen dialogue with China rather than seek to contain the rising power.

16 November: US President Barack Obama started his maiden China visit by speaking against two sensitive issues – censorship and human rights. He said that freedoms of expression and worship, of access to information and political participation were universal rights which should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities all over the world.

30 November: The Washington Post reported thatUS President Barack Obama’s two-page letter to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, delivered through NSA James Jonesin early November, conveyed the message that if Pakistan did not halt using insurgents like Lashkar-e-Taiba as a strategic tool towards India and Afghanistan, then US might be impelled to use ‘any means’ at its disposal.

2 December: US President Barack Obama unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan where he issued an order to send about 30,000 additional American troops. But he also vowed to start bringing the US forces home from Afghanistan in the middle of 2011 as US could not afford and should not have to shoulder an ‘open-ended commitment’.

2 December: In his Afghan-policy speech at the West Point Military Academy, US President Barack Obama said that Al-Qaeda after getting defeated by the US-led international forces in Afghanistan had established a safe haven in Pakistan.

10 December: President Barack Obama in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize said that US must uphold moral standards while waging wars that were necessary and justified.

Relations with India

1 January: India and USA signed a defence deal involving a $2.1 billion contract for eight Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for navy.

7 January: US ambassador to India David C. Mulford said that India’s dossier provided to Islamabad containing evidences of linking Pakistani nationals with the Mumbai terror attacks was credible. He also revealed that the dossier had been prepared by India with help from the FBI.

26 January: While asserting that Indians have no better friend and partner than the American people, US President Barack Obama said that their shared values enable the two countries to meet any challenge, particularly from those who use violence to try to undermine free and open societies.

2 April: In the sidelines of G-20 meeting at London, US President Barack Obama called for a dialogue process between India and Pakistan but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that a minimum pre-condition was that Islamabad should not allow its soil to be used to promote terrorism.

14 April: The US Congress cleared, through a notification, the $1.2 billion sale of eight Boeing Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-submarine Warfare aircraft to India.

5 May: Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation, Rose Gottemoeller, told an international conference that getting India to sign non-proliferation treaty (NPT) ‘remains a fundamental objective of the United states.’

28 May: US President Barack Obama nominated Timothy J Roemer to be his new envoy in India.

30 May: US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates at the eighth annual Asian Security Summit at Singapore outlined that United States would look to India to be a partner and a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

5 June: The US special envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, said that India had a legitimate role to play in the search for stability in Afghanistan and the region.

18 July: On her visit to India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the five pillars which would form the foundation for India-US relations, viz. economic growth, environment, nonproliferation, education and the war on terror.

20 July: Putting the India-US relationship as a ‘personal priority’ and intending to make deepening of relations as ‘signature accomplishment’ for the Barack Obama administration, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded three agreements – on end use monitoring arrangements for defence equipment and technology, a technology safeguards agreement on space cooperation and a science and technology endowment fund.

13 September: The US government cleared a high technology system for India, the futuristic shipboard Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and battle management. India was the second country after the UAE, to be cleared by the US state and defence departments for sale of this system.

19 October: ‘Cope-India-09’, a five-day joint air exercise between Indian Air Force (IAF) and United States Air Force (USAF) began at the Air Force Station in Agra. For the event, the USAF had flown in three C-130H Hercules, one C-17 Globemaster, one C-130J Super Hercules and 180 personnel. The IAF fielded five AN-32, one IL-76, two Mi-171V and one Chetak helicopter with a force strength of 270 personnel.

12 October: As part of the ongoing Indo-US Defence Cooperation, an Indo-US Joint Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2009 began at Babina (till 29 October) in Madhya Pradesh. The aim of the exercise was to conduct a joint Indo-US training exercise under the framework of agreed joint training programme for sharing useful experience in peacekeeping operations and humanitarian disaster relief situations.

17 November: US President Barack Obama during his meeting with the Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao acknowledged that China has a role to play in India-Pakistan relationship for which he gave a monitoring role to China. 

18 November: The Indian MEA, reacting to the reference to India-Pakistan ties in the joint statement issued by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, issued a statement which said the role of any ‘third party’ in bilateral matters between India and Pakistan ‘cannot be envisaged, nor is it necessary’.

24 November: US President Barack Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to US from 22-26 November, by telling him that India was ‘indispensable’ to a future US wanted to build. India-US ties, he said, was the ‘defining partnership of the 21st century’.

25 November: In a joint statement issued after the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both leaders unveiled new initiatives to intensify cooperation on counter-terrorism, climate change, agriculture and education.

11 December:The Obama administration rejected Pakistan’s plea for US mediation on the Kashmir issue by saying that it understood the importance of the issue to both India and Pakistan but it had to be ultimately resolved bilaterally.

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Edited by Satish Kumar

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