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Commitment on Asia Pacific intact: US envoy

United States Ambassador Sung Kim on Wednesday said Washington remained committed in the Asia Pacific, stressing they "weren't retreating and giving space to China.."

In a television interview, the envoy said "it's no secret that China is continuing to expand."

"The challenge for America is how do you work with a growing expanding China so that the whole region can benefit from a constructive partnership with China," he said.

He added that Washington would remain engaged in all aspects of trade and security in the region, but on their position in the South China Sea, he reiterated there had been no change.

He revealed they were doing "everything possible" to promote and protect international rights such as freedom of navigation and freedom of flight.

"This is not solely for the US but good for everybody," he stressed. "So much trade goes through (the sea route)."

"If we don't have freedom of navigation we will all suffer so we are (conducting) freedom of navigation exercises to make sure we promote those rights," he added.

At present, there is an existing territorial dispute among China and some Southeast Asian nations over the strategic waterway.

Bilaterally, China and the Philippines are working on a bilateral consultative mechanism to discuss all issues about the sea row.

Multilaterally, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have agreed to move forward on the discussion of a binding sea pact, the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

While not a claimant, Kim said US "cares very deeply about how the dispute is approached."

"The dispute should be resolved peacefully and should be done according to internationall law and practices."

Aside from the issue in the strategic water, which he described as "a very delicate situation" that requires attention, Kim said issues that were most worrying include tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

"The North Korean situation worries everybody not just for Philippines but for broader region."

Kim also added that terrorism was “spreading" as terror groups lost their grounds in the Middle East.

"These dangerous groups are looking for new places and we saw in Marawi that nobody is secure from infiltration."

To this end, he raised the need "to work together" and made sure these challenges were dealt with effectively.

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA