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Chinese, US defense chiefs may meet this year: Pentagon

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 9, 2010
China may host US Defense Secretary Robert Gates for talks later this year after having cancelled an earlier visit over US arms sales to Taiwan, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Beijing had rebuffed the defense secretary in June, despite an expected visit, but now appears ready to issue another invitation, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told a news conference.

"So if it (an invitation) is being extended again, as it appears to be, we're going to certainly look for the possibility of trying to schedule that before the end of the year," Morrell said.

With the Chinese and US presidents due to meet "early next year," it was crucial to make progress as both leaders have called for bolstering military-to-military relations, he said.

But he added that the visit was not "engagement for the sake of engagement."

"What we are looking for is a resumption of productive, transparent, military-to-military engagement so that we can both gain a better understanding of what our ambitions are, what our intentions are when it comes to our military budgets, how we operate, where we operate, and so forth," Morrell said.

Despite misgivings expressed by Beijing, the US military planned to go ahead with joint military exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, he said.

"It's not an affront to the Chinese. It's not meant to send a message to the Chinese. It's meant to send a message to the North Koreans about their behavior," he said of the planned exercises involving the USS George Washington aircraft carrier.

The United States maintained "the right to operate in any and all international waters, respecting, of course, territorial boundaries," he said.

The Pentagon's comments came a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao extolled "fresh progress" in China-US ties as he met a White House delegation that held talks on thorny issues including North Korea, Iran and trade.

Gates has chided China for suspending military ties over US arms sales to Taiwan, saying in June the dialogue was too important to be "held hostage" to the issue.

He argued that Washington had declared publicly for years that it did not endorse independence for Taiwan and that China's on-off approach would not persuade Washington to alter its policy of regular arms sales to Taiwan.

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China's Hu extols 'progress' in US ties
Beijing (AFP) Sept 8, 2010
President Hu Jintao on Wednesday extolled "fresh progress" in China-US ties as he met a White House delegation that held talks here on thorny issues including North Korea, Iran and trade. "China looks positively on the fresh progress made in China-US relations, and we are willing to work together with the United States in promoting the advance of healthy and stable China-US relations," Hu sa ... read more

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