United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced on Saturday that the U.S. will shift most of its warships to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020 as part of a new military strategy.

In the announcement, Panetta said the U.S. will place 60 percent of its warships in the Pacific Ocean region. Currently, the U.S. Navy splits its forces evenly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The new emphasis on the Pacific Ocean for naval operations will involve placing more aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and other assets in the area, the New York Times reported.  

Make no mistake -- in a steady, deliberate, and sustainable way -- the United States military is rebalancing and brings enhanced capabilities to this vital region, the Times quoted Panetta as saying.

Panetta, who spoke at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue, a forum named for the Singapore hotel where it is held annually, wanted to reassure representatives of the Asian countries attending the conference that this new move is not an effort to contain China. He said the U.S. hopes the move will improve relations with the Communist nation.

We also both understand that there really is no other alternative but for both of us to engage and to improve our communications and to improve our [military-to-military] relationships, Panetta said. That's the kind of mature relationship that we ultimately have to have with China.

And, Panetta said, it is important for Asian countries to solve their conflicts on their own without assistance by the U.S., the Associated Press reported.