U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, visiting the Central American country, said Panama has made a contribution to international security by seizing a ship carrying weapons from Cuba to North Korea.

Biden is in Panama for talks with President Ricardo Martinelli.

Panamanian authorities seized the ship in July. Inspectors also found two Cuban fighter jets and missile parts amid a load of sugar.

A preliminary report by United Nations experts determined that the seized ship violated U.N. sanctions that bar the supplying of weapons to North Korea.

Biden said Tuesday that "Panama did what we have hoped for in other parts of the world. It dared to act when others would have retreated."

The vice president said, "this is what responsible countries do."

Biden arrived in Panama Monday night for an economic mission that included touring  Panama's $5.2 billion canal expansion project.

Biden has said the project, scheduled to be completed by 2015, presents a challenge to U.S. ports that need to expand to receive the new, larger container ships that will pass through the waterway. 

The Panama Canal project will double the shipping capacity of the canal system that has been limited by the locks' inability to accommodate ships wider than 110 feet and longer than 1,050 feet.

The U.S. handed over the administration of the canal to Panama in 1999.

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