UPDATE 3-New Indian Ocean search may be opened for Malaysian jet -U.S.

Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:22pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) - A new search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean as authorities try to determine what happened to a missing Malaysian airliner, the White House said on Thursday.

"It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive, but new information, an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy."

Carney did not specify the nature of the information, and he sidestepped a question about whether the United States had confidence in the Malaysian government's investigation.

"I just don't have an evaluation to make," he said. "What I can tell you is that we're working with the Malaysian government to try to find the plane; find out what happened to it for the sake of the families and, obviously, for the sake of knowing what caused the plane to disappear."

United States assistance in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has included deploying U.S. Navy vessels and sending National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration officials to Malaysia.

"There are a number of possible scenarios that are being investigated as to what happened to the flight. And we are not in a position at this time to make conclusions about what happened, unfortunately. But we're actively participating in the search," Carney told a regular news briefing.

"We're looking at information, pursuing possible leads, working within the investigation being led by the Malaysian government."

The Navy's guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd entered the Strait of Malacca, west of the Malaysian peninsula, and was headed toward the Indian Ocean to continue the search, U.S. defense officials said.

The Kidd had been searching areas south of the Gulf of Thailand, along with the destroyer USS Pinckney.

The Navy was also sending its advanced P-8A Poseidon long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft from a base in Japan to join the search.