September 16, 2012

Panetta concerned Asia disputes could expand

Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press
Larry Downing photo

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, center, steps off his jet after arriving at Yokota Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. Panetta is in Japan as part of his Asian tour which includes China and New Zealand.
(Full-size photo)

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he’s concerned that the territorial disputes in the Asia-Pacific region could spark provocations and result in violence that could involve other nations.

Speaking to reporters on his plane en route to a weeklong trip in the Pacific region, Panetta said he will urge countries here to find a way to peacefully resolve their problems. He arrived Sunday in Japan.

The defense chief says his conversations with the Japanese and Chinese will echo what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told them earlier this month: They must find a process for settling the disputes. The U.S., he says, does not take a position with regard to the disputed lands.

Panetta says he will strongly urge the Chinese to participate in the process.

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