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U.S. calls for peaceful solutions to regional maritime tensions

ROC Central News Agency

2014/02/05 21:37:22

Singapore, Feb. 5 (CNA) The United States called for peaceful ways for countries in the East China Sea and South China Sea regions to address tensions there, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said Wednesday.

'We believe the tensions must eventually be resolved diplomatically and peacefully,' Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III said.

The U.S. does not take sides in the territorial disputes, but expects the security environment in the region to be stable, he said in response to questions during a telephone press conference with journalists in the East Asia-Pacific region.

Asked about Southeast Asian countries' concerns over a possible move by China to declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea following its controversial establishment of an ADIZ over the East China Sea, Locklear said that any attempt by any party to change the status quo is unacceptable, leads to insecurity and should be avoided.

He also reiterated the U.S. stance that it does not recognize China's ADIZ for an area covering the East China Sea, calling it 'an unnecessary action by the Chinese to try to change the status quo.'

Last November, Beijing announced its East China Sea ADIZ, which includes the Diaoyutai Islands that are also claimed by Taiwan and Japan, and other islands claimed by South Korea. The move has raised tensions in the region.

There have been reports recently that China is preparing to announce a South China Sea ADIZ in a move to assert its territorial claims over disputed islands in the region.

Leaderships in countries around the region should come together to address the disputes peacefully, Locklear added.

On the issue of China-U.S. military cooperation, he said the two countries are building a long-term bilateral strategic relationship.

'We will continue to pursue opportunities to develop that relationship,' he said.

He cited as an example a U.S. invitation for China's Navy to participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) this summer, which will include more than 20 countries.

'These are confidence-building military measures that help us prevent miscalculation and allow us to move forward peacefully,' Locklear said.

RIMPAC, the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise, is hosted by the U.S. Pacific Fleet biennially in and around Hawaii.

He was also asked to confirm recent reports that the U.S. Air Force plans to defund the combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) program due to budget constraints, which would include upgrades to U.S. F-16 and Taiwanese F-16 fighter jets, but he said he had no direct information on that issue.

In Taipei, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said that same day that there is no delay in the program to retrofit Taiwan's F-16A/Bs.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Elaine Hou)

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