Admiral Scott Swift, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks during an interview at a U.S. army base in Seoul, South Korea, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Lim Hun-jung/Yonhap
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The U.S. Navy's top commander in the Pacific says it's up to policymakers in Washington whether his sailors patrol within 12 nautical miles of newly constructed islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift spoke during an interview Thursday amid tensions over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea and reports the U.S. will sail near the disputed islands to challenge those claims.Swift said China's construction of the islands hasn't changed the way the Pacific Fleet operates in the area and won't change the way it does going forward.The U.S. last patrolled within 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands in 2012, according to testimony Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear gave to the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.
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