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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Monday warned that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors could easily spiral into war, as the start of the fishing season in the East China Sea increased the likelihood of confrontations between Beijing and Tokyo over a string of islands there.
China's foreign minister said Sunday that his country is troubled by North Korea's plan to launch a long-range rocket and has urged more diplomacy to handle the situation, a measured response to a provocation that has unsettled the region.
Japan and the United States agreed Wednesday to proceed with plans to transfer thousands of U.S. troops out of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, leaving behind the stalled discussion about closing a major U.S. Marine base there.
U.S. officials treaded carefully Monday in responding to Kim Jong-il's death amid concerns that the North Korean dictator's demise could trigger a succession struggle that would deepen uncertainty over the communist nation's nuclear arsenal.