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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marking the first visit by a Marine Corps unit to mainland China since World War II, more than 900 Marines and sailors aboard the USS Juneau stopped at Zhanjiang for a three-day port visit, the Marines said Sunday in a news release.

During the stop, U.S. Navy Adm. Gary Roughead, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, and China’s South Sea Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Gu Wengen, met briefly to discuss the possibility of conducting submarine rescue exercises and overall future relations between the two navies, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force said.

In a meeting with local officials, Marine Lt. Col. Marcus Annibale, the officer-in-charge of more than 500 Okinawa-based Marines from the 31st MEU, said the port visit was a special occasion for his Marines.

“They feel a sense of mission, being the first Marine Corps unit since World War II to visit mainland China,” he said in the statement.

The Sasebo, Japan,-based Juneau is a amphibious transport dock ship, part of the Navy’s Task Force 76.

“I believe by having Juneau here gives our sailors and Marines an opportunity to learn about your country and will bring our navies closer together,” Roughead was quoted in the statement as telling the Chinese admiral.

After the port visit the Juneau embarked for a joint search-and-rescue exercise with the Chinese navy.

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