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Seoul expands ADIZ, partly covers Beijing's

SEOUL -- South Korea said on Sunday it has extended its air defense zone to partially overlap with a similar zone declared by China two weeks ago that has sharply raised regional tensions.

Beijing's declaration of an air defense identification zone in an area that includes islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan has triggered protests from the United States and its close allies Japan and South Korea.

Announcing the expansion of its own zone to include two territorial islands to the south and a submerged rock also claimed by China, South Korea's Defense Ministry said the move would not infringe on neighboring countries' sovereignty.

“We believe this will not significantly impact our relationships with China and with Japan as we try to work for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia,” defense ministry head of policy Jang Hyuk told a briefing.

“We have explained our position to related countries and overall they are in agreement that this move complies with international regulations and is not an excessive measure,” he said, adding the ministry's top priority was to work with neighboring countries to prevent military confrontation.

South Korea had objected to China's Nov. 23 move as unacceptable because its new zone includes a maritime rock named Ieodo, which Seoul controls, with a research station platform built atop it. China also claims the submerged rock.

But South Korea's reaction to Beijing has been more measured than the sharp rebukes delivered from Tokyo and Washington, reflecting a sensitivity towards Seoul's largest trading partner.

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A map of South Korea and the surrounding region shows the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) set up by three East Asian nations at the Defense Ministry in Seoul on Sunday, Dec. ...

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