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US plans to invite China to 2014 naval exercises

Associated Press Modified: September 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: September 19, 2012

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. intends to ask China to a send a ship to join the world's largest maritime exercises for the first time in Hawaiian waters in two years.

The Navy will invite the Asian nation to send a ship to the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercises, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.

China sent military observers to watch the drills in 1998, but has never sent a vessel.

Panetta said he discussed ways to extend cooperation between the two militaries during a meeting with China's national defense minister, Gen. Liang Guanglie.

The defense secretary noted that China and the U.S. participated this week in an exercise to counter pirates in the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen.

"To build on this positive momentum, I informed General Liang today that the United States Navy will invite China to send a ship to participate in RIMPAC 2014 exercise," Panetta said in a transcript of the news conference provided by the Pentagon.

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