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Last Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008, 16:57 GMT
US warship makes Hong Kong visit
The USS Blue Ridge in Hong Kong harbour (28/01/2008)
The ship will spend several days in Hong Kong for "R and R"
China has allowed a US warship to dock in Hong Kong harbour for the first time since it refused a similar request in November 2007.

The docking of USS Blue Ridge and its crew of 700 followed a visit to Beijing by the head of the US Pacific fleet.

Adm Timothy Keating said he had been able to improve understanding with China to enable the visit.

China's refusal of entry to the USS Kitty Hawk in 2007 angered navy personnel and sparked a diplomatic row.

Blue Ridge's Commanding Officer, Capt David Lausman, said the sailors would spend several days in Hong Kong for rest and relaxation.

"Hong Kong is one of the crown jewels for our sailors," he said in a press statement.

"We continue to look forward to many future opportunities to visit this special place."

He said the refusal of docking permission to USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying fleet had been "unfortunate" but was now being handled "at a much higher level".

The incident was seen as potentially damaging to US-Chinese relations.

Access was finally granted but the ships were already returning to their Japan base, disappointing the 8,000 sailors on board and family members who had flown to Hong Kong to meet them for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Beijing has previously blamed the refusal on the US, saying it had "harmed" bilateral relations through its arms sales to Taiwan and the awarding of a medal to the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.



SEE ALSO
US-China navy ships row deepens
29 Nov 07 |  Asia-Pacific
US protest at China navy refusal
29 Nov 07 |  Americas
US Navy ships drop HK visit plan
22 Nov 07 |  Asia-Pacific



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