2014-08-11T100355Z_1007000002_LYNXMPEA7A05U_RTROPTP_2_CNEWS-US-AUSTRALIA-USA-KERRY

U.S. to monitor South China Sea for de-escalation after China rebuff

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps off his aircraft alongside Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in SydneyBy Lesley Wroughton SYDNEY (Reuters) – The United States will monitor the South China Sea to see whether “de-escalatory steps” are being taken, a U.S. State Department official said on Monday, a day after China resisted pressure to rein in actions in the disputed waters. The official spoke as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sydney for talks on regional security with Australian officials, that will also involve Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. A U.S. proposal for a freeze on provocative acts in the South China Sea got a cool response from China and some Southeast Asian nations at a regional meeting at the weekend, an apparent setback to U.S. efforts to thwart China’s assertive moves. The U.S. official said the United States would follow up on those talks by assessing an ASEAN-China meeting due in a few weeks time on implementing a 2002 declaration on conduct in the South China Sea, something that “equates to the freeze.” “We will also be monitoring the actual situation around the rocks, reefs, and shoals in the South China Sea,” he said.

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