US Navy admiral lauds Koreas for avoiding conflict by talking

US Navy admiral lauds Koreas for avoiding conflict by talking
Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift observes operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon aircraft in South China Sea.
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - 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 US would react should a war break out between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, US Navy Adm. Scott Swift said he could not comment specifically on how the US 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 invited to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in 2016, a biannual multilateral exercise that mostly involves the US and its key allies.

"The invitation process is a US 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 US State Department.

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

The US House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 this June in which it stipulates that if the US Department of Defence 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.

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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