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US defence chief heads to China, Japan next week

Published on Mar 28, 2014 4:26 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel will travel to China and Japan next week after hosting a meeting of Asian defence ministers in Hawaii, amid tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over a disputed island chain.

The US military has sought improved relations with its Chinese counterpart, arguing that stronger links will help avoid dangerous misunderstandings.

Beijing has made broad territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea that are not recognized by Washington and its regional allies, including Japan.

Tokyo administers an island chain, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, which is claimed by Beijing, which sometimes sends ships or aircraft to underline its position. Washington has appealed to both sides for restraint.

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