HA NOI — A US guided missile destroyer USS Lassen navigated within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands China is building in the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, the AFP news agency quoted a US defence official as saying on October 27.
This is seen as the first concrete move included in the US's plan to conduct regular patrol activities in the East Sea.
"We are conducting routine operations in the East Sea in accordance with international law. US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea" the official said.
The official also stressed that these operations are "distinct from the question of sovereignty over these islands."
Meanwhile, Reuters said the patrol carried out by the destroyer USS Lassen will near Su Bi (Subi) Reef and Vanh Khan (Mischief) Reef on the Truong Sa archipelago.
Additional patrols would follow in the coming weeks.
Earlier, the Barack Obama administration repeatedly affirmed that the US will exercise the right to freedom of navigation at any international waters where international law allows, including the East Sea.
Viet Nam has adequate legal and historic foundations proving its sovereignty over the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes, including Su Bi and Vanh Khan Reefs which China occupies by force.
On October 15, Viet Nam Foreign Ministry's spokesperson said in response to the information that the US will sail a warship within 12 nautical miles near man-made islands that China built illegally in Viet Nam's Truong Sa archipelago, that countries in and outside the region have the responsibility to contribute to maintaining and enhancing peace, stability as well as navigation and aviation security, safety and freedom in the region on the basis of the strict observance of international law.—VNA