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Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to visit Hong Kong

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USS Nimitz, one of the world's largest warships. US Navy photo

HONG KONG (AFP): China has given the green light to the visit of a US aircraft carrier to Hong Kong, a US official said, amid strained Sino-US military ties over Washington's sale of arms to Taiwan.

News of the stop by the USS Nimitz, one of the world's largest warships, comes less than two weeks after China said it would suspend military and security contacts with Washington over the arms deal with Taipei.

"We have received clearance from China for the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to visit Hong Kong in the near future," a spokesman for the US consulate in the Chinese city told AFP on Thursday.

"Hong Kong is a favourite port of call for US Navy sailors, and the ship's crew is looking forward to the visit."

The spokesman declined to confirm when the ship would dock. The South China Morning Post reported that it would arrive on February 17 and stay for several days.

China's defence ministry did not respond to requests for comment, while foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told AFP: "China's government is handling the US side's application in accordance with relevant procedures."

Tension has been building between the two countries over the Taiwan arms sale and US President Barack Obama's planned meeting with the Dalai Lama in Washington later this month.

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