McCain calls on Pentagon to clarify South China Sea patrol

McCain speaks with a reporter after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in WashingtonBy David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the influential U.S. Senate Armed Services committee has called on the Pentagon to clarify publicly the legal intent of a U.S. patrol last month within 12 nautical miles of an island China has built in the South China Sea. U.S. officials said last week that the U.S. Navy avoided military drills that could have further inflamed tensions with Beijing during the Oct. 27 patrol by the destroyer USS Lassen in the Spratly islands, an approach experts said could reinforce rather than challenge China’s sovereignty claims. Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a Nov. 9 letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter it was vital there should be no misunderstanding about U.S. objectives.

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