US Challenges Russian Claims in Sea of Japan

A U.S. Navy destroyer on Wednesday sailed into waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan in a direct challenge to Moscow. 

The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell “sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other nations,” U.S. Navy Lt. Rachel McMarr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement. 

The move is part of what the Navy calls freedom-of-navigation operation, which challenges nations that claim sovereignty over waters beyond the 12 nautical miles allowed by international maritime law. 

Russia claims all of Peter the Great Bay, which is home to its Pacific fleet. 

“U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis,” McMarr said. “These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe.” 

The U.S. Navy has conducted several such operations in the South China Sea, sailing past islands claimed by China near the Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands. 

The McCampbell’s operation comes at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington.  

CNN reported Wednesday that the Navy was also preparing to sail a ship into the Black Sea in response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine. 

Last month, Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. 

CNN reported that the Pentagon had asked the State Department to inform Turkey that it planned to send a warship to the Black Sea. 

The U.S. is required to notify Turkey under a treaty that governs the passage of military vessels from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea.  

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Voice of America

Mexico Suggests Work Visas for Central Americans

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador proposed on Wednesday offering more work visas for Central Americans and said the United States should do the same, part of a negotiation aimed at stemming the northward flow of migrants. 

Lopez Obrador, who took office Saturday, said he would discuss immigration with U.S. President Donald Trump in coming days, including increasing investment in southern Mexico and Central America. 

“We are proposing investment in productive projects and in job creation, and not only that, also work visas for Mexico and for the United States,” he told a news conference, saying he would give more details “soon.” 

Mexico and the United States have been in talks about how to manage the large groups moving through Mexico in caravans, with Lopez Obrador pushing for investment to address the poverty and crime that drive thousands of people every year from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. 

Lopez Obrador, soon after being elected in July, sent a letter to Trump suggesting they work together to address the root causes of immigration. 

“It is very important to us that we reach an investment agreement between companies and governments, to create jobs in Central America and our country,” he said. 

Infrastructure projects

Lopez Obrador plans major infrastructure projects in the impoverished south of Mexico, including in his home state of Tabasco. He says those plans, including a refinery and two railways, will provide jobs to Mexicans and Central Americans. 

He did not reply when asked if his government was considering a U.S. proposal to return Central American asylum seekers to Mexican territory while U.S. courts processed their cases, saying only that their rights would be respected. 

The arrival of several thousand Central Americans in Mexico’s border city of Tijuana about a month ago prompted Trump to mobilize the U.S. Army to beef up border security, while restricting the number of asylum applications accepted per day. 

While overall illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is much lower than it was 20 years ago, there are more Central Americans, families and asylum seekers than in the past. 

Some migrants clambered over a tall fence to cross into the United States from Tijuana on Tuesday, hoping to speed their asylum applications by turning themselves over to U.S. Border Patrol officials. 

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Voice of America

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