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U.S. to base Coast Guard cutters in western Pacific in response to China

Credit: REUTERS/AMANDA PEROBELLI

The U.S. national security adviser said on Friday the U.S Coast Guard was basing Enhanced Response Cutters in the western Pacific for maritime security missions, citing illegal fishing and harassment of vessels by China.

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WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. national security adviser said on Friday the U.S Coast Guard was basing Enhanced Response Cutters in the western Pacific for maritime security missions, citing illegal fishing and harassment of vessels by China.

In a statement, Robert O'Brien also said the Coast Guard planned to evaluate next fiscal year the feasibility of basing Fast Response Cutters in American Samoa in the South Pacific.

The statement described the United States as a Pacific power and added that China's "illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbors and endangers regional stability."

It said U.S. efforts, including by the Coast Guard, were "critical to countering these destabilizing and malign actions."

"To that end, the USCG is strategically homeporting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters ... in the western Pacific," the statement said, without detailing where the vessels would be based.

It said the new-generation vessels would conduct maritime security missions, such as fisheries patrols, and enhance maritime-domain awareness and enforcement efforts in collaboration with regional partners with limited offshore surveillance and enforcement capacity.

"Enhancing the presence of the USCG in the Indo-Pacific ensures the United States will remain the maritime partner of choice in the region," the statement said.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chris Reese and Daniel Wallis)

((david.brunnstrom@thomsonreuters.com; +1-202 354 5835; Twitter: @davidbrunnstrom; Reuters Messaging: david.brunnstrom@thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))

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