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Panetta: Asia visit signals forces to be stronger

By Robert Burns
AP National Security Writer / October 25, 2011

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ON BOARD THE USS BLUE RIDGE—U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is telling U.S. sailors in Japan that his Asia visit is meant to stress that U.S. forces in the region will be strengthened, despite looming budget cuts.

He also said the U.S. is "on our way to defeating" the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Panetta spoke on the flight desk of the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the U.S. 7th Fleet. The ship was pierside at Yokosuka naval base in Yokosuka harbor.

Later, Panetta was flying to South Korea. Earlier this week he was in Indonesia.

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