14:17 GMT +316 December 2017
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    US Navy amphibious assault vehicles with Philippine and US troops on board maneuver in the waters during a combined exercise in the South China Sea.

    US Pacific Command Welcomes Patrols by Any Nation in South China Sea

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    PACOM Commander Harry Harris said that the United States views favourably international patrols by vessels of any country in the South China Sea.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States views favourably international patrols by vessels of any country in the South China Sea, US Pacific Command (PACOM) Commander Harry Harris said in a briefing on Thursday.

    "I welcome patrols by any nation in the South China Sea because the South China Sea is international water and airspace," Harris stated.

    The South China Sea dispute between Beijing and a number of regional states centers around the Spratly Islands, a group of over 750 islands and reefs that are believed to hold significant oil and gas reserves.

    Countries that lay claim to those, but also to other islands, also say they serve as an important commercial shipping route.

    In January, Harris said that the US Navy would increase the number, complexity and scope of missions in the region to protect "freedom of navigation."

    The Chinese Defense Ministry argued, however, that US patrols near the Paracel Islands chain in the South China Sea undermine regional peace and security.

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    patrol, US Pacific Command (PACOM), South China Sea, United States
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