Two U.S. Navy warships reportedly sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, according to a report.
The deployment, disclosed by two U.S. officials, comes as President Donald Trump seeks to broker a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and just days after the Pentagon rescinded an offer for China to participate in a U.S.-hosted naval drill.
The USS Higgins, a guided-missile destroyer, and the USS Antietam, a missile cruiser, reportedly came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands – southeast of Hainan, Reuters reported, adding that the U.S. officials requested anonymity.
The U.S. vessels’ maneuvering operations were carried out near the islands of Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody, the report said.
The South China Sea remains a contested area, with surrounding countries – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam – disputing China’s territorial claims.
Earlier this month, China riled Vietnam and the Philippines by landing bombers on a disputed set of islands in the South China Sea.