Asia-Pacific Defense Chiefs Meet on Maritime Security

Posted October 18th, 2011 at 2:50 am (UTC-5)
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Senior military leaders from 27 Asia-Pacific countries are meeting this week in Hawaii for talks dealing with issues raised by a growing dispute in the South China Sea.

The U.S. Defense Department is hosting the annual conference, which began Monday and runs through Thursday. It said Australia, Japan and South Korea are among the 27 nations attending.

The Pentagon said the theme of this year's conference is “multilateral approaches to maritime security in the Asia-Pacific.” Officials routinely refer to the dispute over competing claims in the South China Sea as a maritime security issue.

Several countries claim the right to explore for oil and gas in waters off their shores, which China claims all of the South China Sea. Most of the countries prefer to deal with the dispute on a multilateral basis, while China prefers to deal with each of the countries one-on-one.

This is the 14th year for the annual Chiefs of Defense Conference. Last year's conference was held in Seoul.