US House OKs budget for Marine transfer to Guam
Washington: The US House of Representatives has passed a key defence spending bill for fiscal 2013 which includes a USD 26 million allocation for the planned transfer of some of the US Marines stationed in Japan`s Okinawa Prefecture to Guam.
The Senate is also shortly expected to pass the National Defence Authorisation Act for fiscal 2013, which covers the year from October, and President Barack Obama will then sign the bill into law.
The arms services committees of the two chambers agreed to revive the funding for the Okinawa Marine transfer to Guam earlier this week.
Separately, the Japanese government has offered a total of USD 830 million for the Marine transfer, and part of the funding, which was frozen under the fiscal 2012 National Defence Authorisation Act, was also cleared for implementation yesterday.
The House called on the US Defence Department to show Congress a full picture of overall expenses for the Marine transfer project as a condition for fully lifting the embargo on the budget execution.
The approved defence spending bill also stipulated that Washington acknowledges Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and that they fall under the scope of the Japan-US security treaty.
The islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba praised the legislative move by Congress, telling reporters that it represents a "certain degree of progress" in reducing the burden on Okinawa as a major host of the US military in Japan, while maintaining the deterrence provided by the United States.
Gemba also welcomed the bill`s reference to the Senkaku Islands as coming under the scope of the security treaty, saying that it underscores Washington`s "strong commitment" to the mutual defence pact. (Kyodo)
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