U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, seated at table background center right, gives his opening remarks for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense ministers meeting in Ko Olina, Hawaii, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner) (The Associated Press)
Oct 1, 2016, 12:38 AM ET
The Associated Press
Singapore’s defense minister says countries need to look for practical ways to defuse incidents in the South China Sea.
China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands in South China Sea waters crucial for global commerce. The area is also rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.
Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters Friday on the sidelines of a meeting in Hawaii that incidents may not necessarily involve military ships. He noted navies have established protocols for when they encounter each other at sea.
Instead, he says confrontations may develop between fishing vessels or other civilian ships.
Ng says Association of Southeast Asian Nation defense ministers and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter talked at their Hawaii meeting about ways to prevent incidents from escalating.
Pentagon chief reassures Asean ministers over future US commitments
KO OLINA, United States (AFP) – Pentagon chief Ashton Carter met South-east Asian defence ministers on Friday (Sept 30) to discuss regional security issues and reassure them that America’s “rebalance” to Asia will continue under the next US administration.
The rebalance – or “pivot,” as it is sometimes called – has been a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, with a shifting of focus away from the Middle East and toward the Asia-Pacific region.
In opening remarks at an informal summit in Hawaii, Carter told defence ministers that the US would reaffirm its commitment to strengthen cooperation on the shared security challenges in the region, including the return of hundreds of Islamic militants from Iraq and Syria.
“And we’ll make plans to further catalyse the Asia-Pacific’s principled and inclusive security network,” he said.
Key among these is China’s growing reach across the South China Sea.
Beijing has in recent years rapidly expanded its physical presence in the strategically vital waterway, turning small maritime features, islets and reefs into much larger islands capable of holding military facilities.
Carter, who was expected to speak to the press later on Friday, has repeatedly stressed that the US military will ignore Beijing’s contentious South China Sea claims, and keep operating in waters and airspace surrounding the islands.
“The United States would like to help all our nations see more, share more, and do more to keep South-east Asia’s vital waterways open and secure,” Carter said.
A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was confident America would retain its Asia focus whatever the result of November’s presidential election.
“We’ve got a good thing going,” he said.
“There are a lot of opportunities left over. And we want to make sure that our position in the region is solid for the next president.”
The Pentagon chief was due to meet privately with all 10 defence ministers, including the Philippines’ Delfin Lorenzana.
The dialog comes after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte this week vowed to end joint military exercises with the US.
The firebrand leader’s comments were just the latest in a string of attacks against America. He has called Obama a “son of a w***e” and extended overtures to China, potentially upsetting a strong US-Philippine alliance dating back more than 60 years.
Duterte won elections in May in a landslide after a campaign dominated by his pledge to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.
On Friday, he drew parallels between his campaign to wipe out the drug problem and Adolf Hitler’s genocidal drive, saying he’d be “happy” to slaughter millions of drug addicts.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter: US to ‘sharpen military edge’ in Asia
(CNN)The US will “sharpen our military edge” in the face of Chinese territorial expansionism and other regional threats as it embarks on the next phase of its pivot to Asia, the US defense secretary said Thursday.
Increasingly belligerent neighbors
Key ally called into question
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