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Panetta warns against 'provocations' over Asian islands (+video)

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that is concerned that territorial disputes between East Asia countries could result in violence.  

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US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday he is concerned the territorial disputes in the Asia-Pacific region could spark provocations and result in violence that could involve other nations, such as the United States.

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

"I am concerned that when these countries engage in provocations of one kind or another over these various islands that it raises the possibility that a misjudgment on one side or the other could result in violence and could result in conflict and that conflict would then, you know, have the potential of expanding," Panetta said.

The defense chief said his conversations with the Japanese and Chinese would echo what US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told them earlier this month — that they must find a process for settling the disputes. The US, he said, does not take a position with regard to the disputed lands.

He said he will strongly urge the Chinese to participate in the process so they can take part in a forum to resolve the issues.

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