Australia Calls for Navigational Freedom in South China Sea

  • Foreign Minister says unsurprising U.S. is exercising rights
  • Territorial tensions must be solved peacefully, Bishop says

Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea must be upheld and territorial disputes in the region should be resolved peacefully, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

Bishop, who held talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Boston, said it wasn’t surprising the U.S. was exercising its right to travel in the region. She declined to comment on reports that Australia would join U.S. naval patrols there.

The U.S. is reportedly considering sailing warships inside the 12-nautical-mile zones that China says are its territory and has vowed to fly or sail wherever international law allows.

Australia has previously pledged to continue its surveillance flights over the South China Sea and insisted on unhindered access to the area’s trading routes. The South China Sea is home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and is a conduit for goods traveling between Europe and north Asia.

Bishop was joined by new Defense Minister Marise Payne for the Boston talks -- the first time Australia has been represented at the so-called Ausmin meeting by women in both key security roles.

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