US offers $32m aid for maritime security
December 17, 2013 - 8:09:15 am
HANOI: The United States yesterday offered $32.5m in assistance to Southeast Asian nations to boost maritime security which comes as tension grows with China over rival claims in the South China Sea.
On his first visit to Vietnam as secretary of state, John Kerry denied that the assistance had anything to do with China. He however called for “intensified negotiations and diplomatic initiatives” between China and Japan on resolving differences in the East China Sea.
Kerry said up to $18m of the funds would go toward strengthening Vietnam’s coastal patrols to help its coastguard react quicker to search and rescue missions, and for disasters. The funding would also be used to buy five “fast” patrol boats for Vietnam’s coastguard in 2014, he added.
“This announcement has nothing to do with a recent announcement by any other country,” Kerry told a joint news conference with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh.
“This is part of a gradual and deliberate expansion that has been planned for some period of time which we have been working on,” he said, adding: “This is really an ongoing policy and not some kind of quickly-conceived reaction” to increased tension.
Still, Kerry said the United States opposed “coercion and aggressive tactics” to advance territorial claims, saying any disputes should be resolved through international institutions.
China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, overlapping in different places with claims made by Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam.