U.S. Boosting Aid to Southeast Asia

Kerry says the aid isn’t tied to recent tensions over China’s new air-defense zone.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives to deliver the keynote address at the 10th Anniversary Saban Forum, Power Shifts: US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East, in Washington on December 7, 2013.
National Journal
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Jordain Carney
Dec. 16, 2013, 2:42 a.m.

Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry said on Monday the United States would give $32.5 mil­lion to coun­tries in South­east Asia to help in­crease their mari­time se­cur­ity, but he denied that the boost in aid was tied to China’s new air-de­fense zone.

But the sec­ret­ary is press­ing for “in­tens­i­fied ne­go­ti­ations and dip­lo­mat­ic ini­ti­at­ives” to re­solve the grow­ing ten­sions, Re­u­ters re­ports.

“This is part of a gradu­al and de­lib­er­ate ex­pan­sion that has been planned for some peri­od of time, which we have been work­ing on,” Kerry said. “This is really an on­go­ing policy and not some kind of quickly con­ceived re­ac­tion.”

More than half of the aid will go to Vi­et­nam.

The an­nounce­ment comes as an of­fi­cial Chinese news­pa­per claims that a U.S. fleet was “har­ass­ing” a Chinese squad­ron. For­eign Min­istry spokes­wo­man Hua Chun­y­ing told the As­so­ci­ated Press China “al­ways re­spects and ob­serves in­ter­na­tion­al laws and the freedoms of nor­mal nav­ig­a­tion and over­flight.” 

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