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Pacific Commander Adm. Timothy Keating on Thursday backed away from doubts he expressed earlier that the move of some 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam would happen by the planned 2014 deadline.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Japan Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada in Tokyo, Keating said he was only talking about the possibility of a delay because of "budgetary challenges" facing the United States and Japan in coming up with the estimated $10.3 billion tab for the move to Guam.

He expressed that opinion in a November interview with reporters in New York and again in a Feb. 5 interview with Reuters in Washington.

"What I said was there is a possibility of delay," Adm. Timothy Keating, who heads the Pacific Command, told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

The realignment plan includes building a new Marine air facility on the lower half of Camp Schwab, closing several Marine bases on Okinawa and moving Marine headquarters units and some 8,000 of the 13,000 Marines now stationed on Okinawa to Guam.

Keating was more upbeat Thursday about the 2014 time frame being met.

"Secretary Clinton and your foreign minister have just committed Japan and the United States to executing the program on time, and we believe that’s what will happen," he told reporters.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone signed an accord in Tokyo that would legally bind Japan to spend up to $2.8 billion of the $6.09 billion it has promised for the Guam relocation project.

When asked if the money budgeted for the project would be enough, Keating said, "That’s for the financial folks to address."


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