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    Pentagon Backs McCain's $7.5Bln Military Funding Plan

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    The US Department of Defense believes the Asia-Pacific to be a top priority and "in principle" supports the $7.5 billion military funding aiming to increase US military presence and build up infrastructure in the area, Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In January, John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, proposed to spend $1.5 billion on "Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative" each year in 2018-2022.

    "The Asia-Pacific is a top priority for the United States, and the Department is committed to ensuring that U.S. forces are as capable and ready as possible to face the evolving challenges in the region," Ross said in a statement as quoted by the Wall Street Journal newspaper, adding that the Pentagon "supports [the plan] in principle."

    According to the newspaper, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also recently endorsed the plan, saying in April that it might "enhance U.S. military power through targeted funding to realign our force posture in the region, improve operationally relevant infrastructure, fund additional exercises, pre-position equipment and build capacity with our allies and partners."

    The situation in the region has been tense due to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, seen as a threat by its neighbors Japan and South Korea and their allies. In recent months, Pyongyang has carried out a number of missile launches, with the United States sending a naval group led by the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula in response.

    Besides, Washington has repeatedly criticized China's artificial island construction in the South China Sea while US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in January, before assuming office, that the United States should send China a clear signal of the inadmissibility of such actions. China claims around 80 percent of the South China Sea and several islands, which is contested by other states in the region. It has been believed to be placing military facilities on the artificial islands in the area.

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    military funding, US Senate Armed Services Committee, Pentagon, James Mattis, John McCain, United States
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