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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta exchanges pleasantries Wednesday with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Mr. Xi is set to become Communist Party chief next month and president next spring. (Associated Press)

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta exchanges pleasantries Wednesday with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Mr. Xi is set to become Communist Party chief next month and president next spring. (Associated Press)

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Say hello, Assad: See the Navy warships off the coast of Syria

The Navy has sent four warships — USS Ramage, USS Mahan, USS Gravely and USS Barry — armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea amid violence in Syria. Navy ships are capable of a variety of military actions, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles as they did against Libya in 2011.