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Hagel Tours US Warship in Singapore

  • VOA News

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spent his Sunday touring a new class of warship and meeting with American sailors.

Hagel visited the USS Freedom, a new, smaller class of warship that is designed to perform a variety of missions in shallow waters. The Freedom is docked at Singapore's Changi Naval Base as part of exercises with countries in the region.

The defense secretary is in Singapore to attend an annual security conference with Asian nations.

In a key speech Saturday at the annual security forum known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, Hagel warned China about cyber intrusions, saying some of them appear to be linked to the Chinese government and military. He said cyber attacks represent a security threat to every country, including China.

On the sidelines of the conference, Hagel met with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and South Korea's Kim Kwan Jin. The three said afterwards that they would cooperate on curbing North Korea's nuclear development. He also met with members of the Chinese delegation to the conference behind closed doors. U.S. officials described the talks as "positive."

After more than a year of hard-line rhetoric, a missile launch and a nuclear test, North Korea reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping last month that it is open to dialogue on the nuclear issue.

China is one of the parties in stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament. The United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia also participate in the negotiations.

Addressing Chinese concerns about U.S. engagement in Asia, Hagel said Washington supports a strong and emerging China that takes responsibility for the security of the region. He said the United States wants to work with Beijing to iron out differences through respectful dialogue.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet later this month with U.S. President Barack Obama in California. Their talks are expected to include a cyberspace code of conduct.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.