US Senator Webb to visit Asia

 Democratic US Senator Jim Webb, a critic of China and champion of engaging Myanmar, will visit Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam on an August 12-25 trip, his office announced Wednesday.

Webb, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is scheduled to meet with heads of state, foreign policy and military officials, as well as business leaders at each stop, his office said.

The senator will meet in Thailand with officials from new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government as well as with former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to discuss the country's elections last month and US-Thai relations.

In Singapore, Webb was due to discuss bilateral ties, regional efforts to combat human trafficking and maritime sovereignty concerns at a time when China has clashed with neighbors on the issue.

He will also meet with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

The issue of China's controversial actions in regional waters will also feature prominently at Webb's stops in Indonesia and Vietnam, where he will discuss "territorial disputes in the South China Sea," his office said.

The US Senate in June approved a symbolic resolution, crafted by Webb, that "deplores the use of force" by Chinese vessels in territorial disputes in the strategic and resource-rich South China Sea.

The symbolic resolution "deplores the use of force by naval and maritime security vessels from China in the South China Sea" and urges a "multilateral, peaceful process to resolve these disputes."

China has previously rejected calls for multilateral talks on the South China Sea disputes, insisting on one-on-one contacts with other claimants.

AFP

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