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Taiwan keeping close tabs on disputed Diaoyutai Islands

ROC Central News Agency

2013/01/22 10:59:31

Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Taiwan has been closely monitoring the situation over the Diaoyutai Islands and has reaffirmed its sovereignty over the island group, according to Taiwanese officials Monday, amid growing tensions in the disputed area.

The military has kept close tabs over the Diaoyutais in the East China Sea, and will take contingency measures if necessary, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shuo-he said.

Luo's remarks came after tensions in the region escalated since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about Washington's policy toward the island group at a news conference on Jan. 18.

Clinton said the U.S. does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, but acknowledges they are under the administration of Japan and opposes 'any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration.'

Following Clinton's remarks, China dispatched surveillance ships to the waters near the Diaoyutais in an effort to assert its territorial claims over the islands, according to Chinese and Japanese media reports.

At the joint news conference in Washington with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Clinton also 'urges all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means.'

In response, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia said Clinton's remarks do not affect Taiwan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutais.

Instead, it showed that the U.S. also recognizes the existence of a dispute over the islands, he added. Japan had previously denied there was any disputed claims over the islands.

Reaffirming Taiwan's sovereignty over the islands, Hsia urged parties involved to exercise restraint and to shelve differences. All sides should also seek peaceful resolutions to address the issue, he added.

The uninhabited Diaoyutai Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. They have been under Japan's control since 1972, but are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

The area is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas resources.

(By Elaine Hou)

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