US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta got a rare glimpse inside a Chinese naval base and toured two of its ships on Thursday.

Mr Panetta checked out the frigate Yantai, which recently returned from a counter-piracy deployment in the Gulf of Aden, and the Great Wall 197, a conventionally powered submarine.

The US has repeatedly called for China to be more transparent about its military. Mr Panetta’s tour of the People’s Liberation Army’s North Sea Fleet capped a three-day visit in which the Pentagon chief met with China’s military and civilian leaders, urging greater cooperation and communication between the two nations.

The next stop for Mr Panetta is New Zealand, where he will meet with the Pacific nation’s Defence Minister.

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