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IN THE NEWS - US Naval Presence 'Shaping Events' in South China Sea

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In this photo taken Nov. 16, 2012 and released by U.S. Navy, the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, second row from bottom right, and JS Hyuga, bottom, cruise with other ships from the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in East China Sea.
In this photo taken Nov. 16, 2012 and released by U.S. Navy, the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, second row from bottom right, and JS Hyuga, bottom, cruise with other ships from the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in East China Sea.

The top officer in the United States Navy spoke this week about the Navy's growing presence in Asia and the Pacific Ocean. He said the growing U.S. presence is beginning to show results, but admitted it will be 'a long-term effort'. He also said he hoped the Navy will expand cooperation with the new government in India.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert is the Chief of Naval Operations. He spoke during a visit on Monday to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Territorial disputes between China and its neighbors have increased tensions in East Asia. The disputes recently led to anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam. At least two people have died with many others injured in the unrest.

Admiral Greenert said China was among the Asia-Pacific powers that joined the U.S. in accepting a Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea. The document sets rules for naval ships and aircraft to follow during unplanned contacts at sea.

He added that the growing military-to-military discussions with China are beginning to show results, especially in the South China Sea.

"They (China's Navy) have had situations where they have intervened on our behalf, where one of our ships was being approached by a non-navy Chinese ship and being kind of harassed. And the commander of the (Chinese) warship said, 'I've spoken with this guy (U.S. ship commander), he's on constant course and speed, wget out of the way, and actually positioned himself (between the ships). So there are a few examples of this. We are starting to shape events. We have got to manage our way through this, in my opinion, through this East China Sea and South China Sea (tensions). We're not leaving. They know that. They would be the leadership of the Chinese Navy."

President Barack Obama traveled to four East Asian nations last month. During his trip, the United States signed a 10-year security agreement with the Philippines. The agreement opens Philippine bases to more U.S. troop visits and expands military exercises between the two countries. It also strengthens the information-gathering abilities of the Philippines at sea.

Under the agreement, the U.S. military is permitted to keep ships, aircraft and military equipment at a few Philippine bases over the next 10 years.

The U.S. Navy has asked Vietnam to accept more port calls. Admiral Greenert said he would like to see more cooperation with Vietnam in what he called "a deliberate manner." He also said he hoped the U.S. could re-establish a useful, strategic partnership with India.

"Stable mil-to-mil relations, they've been there with India. We need to improve our communications and our interoperability. Currently, we do exercise with the Indian navy. It's a lot of humanitarian assistance, search-and-rescue, medical. But my goal would be to get back to where we were in the mid-2000s. We were doing very, very comprehensive events in an exercise called Malabar, which is an annual exercise we have with the Indian Navy. We were doing carrier operations together, very, very complex, integrating air wings, and I think it would be great if we could get back to that level."

The chief of naval operations said the U.S. Navy is fully ready to support President Obama's "pivot," or rebalance, to Asia. Today, 51 of the Navy's 289 ships are deployed in the Asia-Pacific area. The numbers will grow to 58 ships next year and to 67 by the year 2020.

And that's In The News, from VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

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