China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a joint news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (not in picture) at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, in Beijing, China, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
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The United States should do nothing to harm China's sovereignty and security in the South China Sea, China's foreign minister told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, ahead of a key court ruling on China's claims in the disputed waterway.China is conducting military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the north of the region this week, while U.S. Navy officials said Thursday that U.S. destroyers had been patrolling around Chinese-held reefs and islands in the contested Spratly Islands to the south.China has accused the United States of militarizing the waterway with freedom of navigation patrols, while Washington has expressed concern about China's building of military facilities on islands it controls in the South China Sea.The U.S. State Department confirmed that Kerry had spoken to Wang, without providing details.
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