The U.S. Navy has sent a warship near disputed islands in the South China Sea, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Friday, ahead of key meeting between the leaders of China and the United States at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

In a statement to The Japan Times, U.S. Pacific Fleet Deputy Spokesman Cmdr. Nate Christensen said that the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" (FONOP) near islands in the South China Sea's Paracel chain on Monday.

The "USS Chancellorsville sailed near the Paracel islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law," Christensen said, adding that the sailing had challenged China's claims around the islets.