News Briefs – March 11, 2019


Russian fighter escorts U.S. intelligence plane over Baltic

The Russian military says it scrambled a fighter jet to escort a U.S. intelligence plane over the Baltic Sea.
The Defense Ministry did not say when the incident happened as it released a video shot from the Su-27 fighter’s cockpit as it was approaching the U.S. RC-135 aircraft. It added March 7 that the fighter returned to its base after the U.S. plane flew away.
Russia has repeatedly said that the U.S. and its NATO allies have increased the number of intelligence missions alongside Russia’s borders in recent years, describing them as part of the alliance’s buildup that threatens Russia’s security.
The U.S. and NATO have frequently complained that Russian fighters escorting their warplanes perform dangerous maneuvers, the claims Moscow has rejected. AP

U.S. military official says diplomatic ‘quad’ is ongoing

An American military official says that the U.S., Australia, India and Japan continue to have regular diplomatic meetings to “coordinate our respective visions of and efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col Dave Eastburn made the comments late March 8 in Washington to clarify that the U.S.-backed diplomatic grouping often referred to as the quad would continue.
They came after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, suggested in Singapore on Thursday that a loose security grouping of the four countries could be shelved for now.
Eastburn said Davidson “was referring to a formal, regular meeting of military leaders from the four countries” and not other regular diplomatic consultations. He said such diplomatic meetings have been held three times since November 2017 and would continue.
The U.S. and the other three countries had come together to provide humanitarian assistance after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then suggested they form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which met three years later.
The meetings stopped for a decade but were restarted in 2017. AP

S. Korea, U.S. sign deal on Seoul paying more for U.S. military

South Korea and the United States have signed a deal that would increase Seoul’s financial contribution for the deployment of U.S. troops in the Asian country.
After rounds of failed negotiations, chief delegates from the two countries last month agreed on Seoul paying about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019 for the U.S. military presence, up from about $830 million last year.
President Donald Trump earlier pressured Seoul to increase its share, triggering worries in South Korea that he might withdraw some of the 28,500 U.S. troops here if Seoul refused to accept his demand.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris signed the new cost-sharing deal March 8.
The deal requires parliamentary approval in South Korea. AP