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Apr 24, 2015

Corrected – U.S. removes prominent Myanmar businessman from sanctions list

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – (In second paragraph, story corrects to show that Win Aung is the current head of the chamber of commerce, not the former head)

The United States removed a prominent businessman from its Myanmar sanctions list on Thursday, in spite of doubts about reforms in the Southeast Asian country.

Apr 23, 2015

U.S. removes prominent Myanmar businessman from sanctions list

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States removed a prominent businessman from its Myanmar sanctions list on Thursday, in spite of doubts about reforms in the Southeast Asian country.

Win Aung, a former head of Myanmar’s chamber of commerce whose Dagon International construction firm won contracts to help build the country’s nine-year-old capital of Naypyitaw, was removed from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Apr 16, 2015

Images show rapid Chinese progress on new South China Sea airstrip

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Recent satellite images published on Thursday show China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested territory in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and may be planning another.

IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly said images provided by Airbus Defence and Space taken on March 23 showed work on the runway on reclaimed parts of Fiery Cross Reef in the archipelago, which China contests with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Apr 15, 2015

China reef work could lead to new air exclusion zone: U.S. commander

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China could eventually deploy radar and missile systems on outposts it is building in the South China Sea that could be used to enforce an exclusion zone over the disputed territory, the U.S. military commander for Asia said on Wednesday.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, speaking at a congressional hearing in Washington, described as “aggressive” the land reclamation and construction projects China has been conducting at eight military outposts in the South China Sea.

Apr 9, 2015

North Korea fires missiles into sea as U.S. defense chief visits region

OSAN, South Korea (Reuters) – North Korea has fired two surface-to-air missiles off its west coast, South Korea said on Thursday, with the latest in a string of short-range firings by the North coming shortly before the U.S. defense secretary arrived in the region.

The two short-range missiles were fired on Tuesday, South Korea’s defense ministry said, and followed the launch on Friday of four short-range missiles off the west coast of North Korea.

Apr 8, 2015

U.S. defense chief warns against militarization of territorial rows in Asia

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter kicked off his first Asian tour on Wednesday with a stern warning against the militarization of territorial rows in a region where China is at odds with several nations in the East and South China Seas.

Carter’s visit to Japan coincides with growing U.S. concern over China’s land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago of the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing has rival claims with several countries including the Philippines and Vietnam.

Apr 8, 2015

U.S. Defense chief in Japan to show alliance strong amid China worries

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter kicked off talks with his Japanese counterpart on Wednesday aimed at demonstrating that the two countries’ security alliance is tighter than ever amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Carter’s visit coincides with the first update in U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines since 1997, a revision that will expand the scope for interaction between the two allies in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to ease the constraints of Japan’s pacifist constitution on the nation’s military.

Apr 6, 2015

U.S. defense chief says influence at risk without Asia trade pact

PHOENIX (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Monday threw his weight behind the Obama administration’s bid to clear the way for a pan-Pacific trade pact, arguing that time was running out and that without a deal, U.S. influence and Asia-Pacific stability were at risk.

Twelve Asia-Pacific nations have been trying to conclude a trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But delays in the U.S. Congress in finalizing the Trade Promotion Authority that President Barack Obama needs to streamline its passage through Congress have raised doubts about whether it can be achieved.

Mar 25, 2015

Afghan president says need to find way to say ‘sorry’ to Taliban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that some members of the Taliban had legitimate grievances given the torture and ill treatment they had suffered and it was necessary to find a way to apologize and heal national wounds.

Speaking during a visit to Washington, Ghani said South Africa and Rwanda, which set up truth and reconciliation commissions to come clean about past abuses but not necessarily to punish them, had been most effective in “devising collective forms of therapy” for traumatized nations.

Mar 23, 2015

U.S. changes tack after diplomatic setback on China-led lender

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration, stung by allies who have thrown their weight behind a new China-led development lender, has turned its focus to a new front: exerting its remaining leverage to influence the bank’s lending standards.

For months, the United States had urged countries to think twice about joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank until it could show sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.

    • About David

      "David Brunnstrom is Reuters U.S. Asia Policy Correspondent, based in Washington DC. Before moving to Washington in 2012, he reported from all over Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia as EU and NATO correspondent based in Brussels. Before that, he spent nearly 20 years in Asia for Reuters, with postings in Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Hanoi, Islamabad and Kabul."
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