(Associated Press) SINGAPORE — From this island nation in the South China Sea, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sent a message Saturday that America’s new military focus on the Asia-Pacific is not intended to raise tensions in the region or threaten Beijing.

The Pentagon chief appeared to offer an olive branch to the communist power and said often feuding rivals must learn to work better together for the benefit of the entire region.

Delivering his most extensive thoughts to date on the fragile state of U.S.-China relations, Panetta said neither side is naive about their disagreements.

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