Britain's Johnson vows to send 2 carriers to the Pacific

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 28 2017 04:47 AM

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Thursday that Britain plans to send two new aircraft carriers to the Asia-Pacific to ensure freedom of navigation.

Johnson, in Sydney for annual talks between the British and Australian foreign and defense ministers, said one of the first things Britain will do when two new "colossal" aircraft carriers are ready is send them on a freedom of navigation operation in the waters of the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to the Australian Associated Press.

The dispatch will be done "to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade," he was quoted as saying.

China's ongoing militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea was discussed at the talks, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed.

"We spoke about the challenges including in the South China Sea and we had a long discussion about the Pacific and the opportunities for deeper British engagement in our part of the world," she was quoted as telling reporters.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said the two sides discussed freedom of navigation and agreed to explore opportunities for joint activities between the two countries' militaries.

On the unrest in the southern Philippines, Johnson said that the two countries must respond jointly to the threat posed by Islamic State-inspired militants there.