Sun, May 12, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Death on the High Seas: US refuses to condemn shooting of fisherman

NO RUSH TO JUDGEMENT:The US State Department said only that it was aware of the incident and that it welcomed the Philippines’ pledge to investigate it

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

The US has refused to condemn the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Asked directly during the US Department of State’s daily press briefing if the US condemned “this brutal attack,” acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell would not.

“The United States is aware of the incident between a Philippine law enforcement vessel and one or more Taiwan fishing boats that resulted in the death of one Taiwan fisherman,” he said. “We welcome the Philippine government’s pledge to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the incident and to work with the Taiwan authorities to establish what transpired.”

He said that Washington urged all parties to ensure maritime safety and to refrain from actions that could escalate tensions in the region and undermine the prospects for a diplomatic or other peaceful resolution of differences.

A journalist then pressed Ventrell, asking: “So, you’re not condemning the Filipino government for this attack?”

Ventrell replied: “Well, we said that they’re going to conduct an investigation, and what we want is a full and transparent investigation into the specifics of the incident.”

The acting deputy spokesman was asked if the Philippines should apologize.

“Well, again, let’s see what the investigation says before we make a further judgement,” Ventrell said.

Asked if the incident had occurred in Philippine waters or in disputed waters, Ventrell said that he was “not aware” where the incident actually occurred.

“I don’t know if we have a definitive understanding — this is, again, one of the things we hope that the investigation can clarify,” he said.

Ventrell said that he was “not aware” that either Taiwan or the Philippines had been in contact with the US about the shooting.

“We maintain contact with both parties,” he said.

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