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By Paul Eckert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday commended Panama's search and seizure of a North Korean-flagged ship traveling from Cuba to the Panama Canal and offered Washington's help if requested.

"The United States strongly supports Panama's decision to inspect the DPRK flagged vessel," said State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell, using the initials for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The United States commends the action that the government of Panama took in this case," he added.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert; Editing by Sandra Maler)