Panama's President Martin Torrijos has announced a plan to build a new lane along the Panama Canal to allow its use by the world's largest ships.
Speaking in Panama City on Monday, Mr. Torrijos called the expansion the most important decision about the canal and its role in the 21st century.
The new lane would double the capacity of the canal. It would cost $5.2 billion and is expected to be completed in 2014.
The Panama Canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with a series of lakes and locks, is a major contributor to Panama's economy.
The expansion would have to be approved by a referendum. Opinion polls show Panamanians strongly favor the expansion.Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.