WASHINGTON The militarization of facilities in the South China Sea does not help efforts to resolve maritime claims there, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said before he was to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday.
The United States is "encouraging the peaceful resolution of competing maritime claims in the South China Sea – a goal that is definitely not helped by the militarization of facilities in that region," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
On Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry struck a combative tone ahead of Wang's visit by saying China's South China Sea military deployments are no different from U.S. deployments on Hawaii.
The United States last week accused China of raising tensions in the South China Sea by its apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island, a move China has neither confirmed nor denied.
Asked whether the South China Sea and the missiles would come up when Wang meets Kerry, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Washington should not use the issue of military facilities on the islands as a "pretext to make a fuss."
"The U.S. is not involved in the South China Sea dispute, and this is not and should not become a problem between China and the United States," the spokeswoman told reporters on Monday.
Kerry and Wang are due to meet at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT).
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Heavey and Jonathan Oatis)
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Published Date: Feb 23, 2016 23:46 PM | Updated Date: Feb 23, 2016 23:46 PM