Defense ministers discuss defusing South China Sea incidents

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Singapore’s defense minister says countries need to look for practical ways to defuse incidents in the South China Sea.

China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands in South China Sea waters crucial for global commerce. The area is also rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters Friday on the sidelines of a meeting in Hawaii that incidents may not necessarily involve military ships. He noted navies have established protocols for when they encounter each other at sea.

Instead, he says confrontations may develop between fishing vessels or other civilian ships.

Ng says Association of Southeast Asian Nation defense ministers and US Defense Secretary Ash Carter talked at their Hawaii meeting about ways to prevent incidents from escalating.

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