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By David Alexander and Rujun Shen SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned on Saturday that Beijing's island-building in the South China Sea was undermining security in the Asia-Pacific and he called for a diplomatic push to solve the territorial dispute that is driving China's effort. Carter, speaking to top defense officials from across the Asia-Pacific, acknowledged that several countries had created outposts in the region's disputed islands, but he said the scope of China's activity created uncertainty about its future plans. "China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined ... and China did so in only the last 18 months," Carter told the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum.
The United States on Saturday called for an "immediate and lasting halt" to reclamation works in disputed waters in the South China Sea, saying Beijing's behaviour in the area was "out of step" with international norms. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants," US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore. "We also oppose any further militarisation of disputed features," he said, stressing that US forces would continue entering what he called international waters and airspace in the tense region.
US top diplomat John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Saturday launch a new high-stakes diplomatic drive to nail down an unprecedented nuclear deal as they hurtle towards a deadline just one month away. US officials warned the weeks leading to June 30 would be intense, vowing to "keep the pressure on" to force the Iranians and everyone at the table to make the "tough decisions" needed to end a 12-year standoff and put a nuclear bomb beyond Iran's reach. Sealing a long-elusive deal with the Islamic republic could prove President Barack Obama's lasting foreign policy achievement.