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HONOLULU The United States will ask China to join the world's largest maritime exercises when they're held in Hawaii waters in two years.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday the Navy would invite China to send a ship to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercises.
Panetta says he told China's national defense minister, Gen. Liang Guanglie, about the invitation during meetings in China. China has observed previous exercises but hasn't sent a ship.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet hosts the exercise every two years.
This year, 22 countries including Japan, Russia and Chile participated. The drills included 25,000 sailors and other military personnel, 42 surface ships, six submarines and 200 aircraft.
China sent military observers to watch the drills in 1998.