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US, Japan Reach Deal on Air Base

A military plane and helicopters are seen at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan (2009 File)

The United States and Japan have agreed on a deal to relocate an air base on the island of Okinawa.

Japanese media, quoting unnamed government sources, said Saturday that the U.S. Marines' Futenma base would be moved from Ginowan to the city of Nago, on the northern part of the island. The two countries also agreed to consider transferring some of the base's functions to other facilities not on Okinawa.

The Japanese government sources said both sides would wait several months before coming to agreement on some additional details.

News of the deal came one day before Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was scheduled to visit Okinawa to meet with local leaders. Many of them have said that they want the U.S. to withdraw the base from island.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Tokyo Friday as part of her ongoing Asian trip.

The top U.S. diplomat praised the 50-year alliance between Washington and Japan, calling it "essential" to meeting the challenges of the future.

Washington had been pressing Tokyo to abide by a 2006 agreement, negotiated with Japan's previous government that called for relocating the Futenma base to another location on Okinawa.