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U.S. has responsibility to rein unruly allies for Asia-Pacific stability

By Zhi Linfei (Xinhua)

08:08, September 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sunday began his three-nation Asia-Pacific tour, during which he will pay his first visit as Pentagon chief to China to deepen military ties, a visit overshadowed by rising tensions in the region.

To prevent the tense situation from further escalation, the U.S. government should take the responsibility to rein in its unruly allies in the region including Japan and the Philippines.

Washington should discourage Japan's provocations and rectify its own wrong position of applying the U.S.-Japan security treaty to China's Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. It also should warn Manila against making further provocations in the South China Sea, and urge it to return to the negotiating table.

When Panetta made remarks before reporters aboard ahead of his landing in Tokyo on Sunday evening, the first stop of his trip, the U.S. apparently was attempting to play a "detached" arbitrator of the territorial disputes, a role that hadn't been invited by any concerning parties.

Panetta said, "I am concerned that when these countries engage in provocations of one kind or another over these various islands, that it raises the possibility that a misjudgement on one side or the other could result in violence, and could result in conflict."

He even alarmed that provocations over the territorial disputes could blow up into a war unless governments exercised more restraint.

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