US Navy ad­mi­ral lauds Koreas for avoid­ing con­flict by talk­ing

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

The com­man­der of the United States Pa­cific Fleet said yesterday that the latest sit­u­a­tion on the Korean Penin­sula where both sides ended a mil­i­tary stand­off through di­a­logue is a great ex­am­ple on how to re­solve sim­i­lar con­flicts.

Re­spond­ing to a Tai­wanese re­porter’s ques­tion on how the U.S. would re­act should a war break out be­tween the two sides of the Tai­wan Strait, U.S. Navy Adm. Scott Swift said he could not com­ment specif­i­cally on how the U.S. might re­act be­cause it was a hy­po­thet­i­cal ques­tion.

“That is re­ally a pol­icy ques­tion that de­pended upon how a con­flict might evolve,” he said.

But he used the latest in­ci­dent when North and South Korea reached agree­ment early yesterday that tem­po­rar­ily ended a state of height­ened mil­i­tary ten­sion on the penin­sula as an ex­am­ple.

“I was very heart­ened by the most re­cent de­vel­op­ment that both North and South came to­gether to dis­cuss their dif­fer­ences. It is the best mech­a­nism for go­ing for­ward if a con­flict were to break out,” he noted.

Mean­while, Swift said he is not in a po­si­tion to com­ment on whether Tai­wan will be in­vit- ed to the Rim of the Pa­cific (RIMPAC) ex­er­cise in 2016, a bian­nual mul­ti­lat­eral ex­er­cise that mostly in­volves the U.S. and its key al­lies.

“The in­vi­ta­tion process is a U.S. gov­ern­ment process and I am not in the po­si­tion to com­ment on who gets in­vited,” he said, adding that the ques­tion should be re­ferred to the U.S. State Depart­ment.

But he stressed that RIMPAC is another ex­am­ple of the im­por­tance of com­ing to­gether in a mul­ti­lat­eral and trans­par­ent way that the U.S. can ex­er­cise with coun­tries through­out the re­gion.

The U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed an amend­ment to the Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Act ( NDAA) of 2015 this June in which it stip­u­lates that if the U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense in­vites Bei­jing to par­tic­i­pate in RIMPAC, a sim­i­lar in­vi­ta­tion must be ex­tended to Tai­wan.

RIMPAC, the world’s largest naval ex­er­cise, is hosted bian­nu­ally by the United States in the Pa­cific around Hawaii.

Main­land China was first in­vited to the last round in 2014 and the in­vi­ta­tion has al­ready been ex­tended to the next one in 2016.

Swift, who is cur­rently vis­it­ing Malaysia, made the re­marks dur­ing a tele­phone con­fer­ence call with jour­nal­ists in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion yesterday.

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