by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 10, 2011
America's top military officer urged Beijing on Sunday to use its relationship with Pyongyang to ensure regional stability, while warning North Korea against further dangerous provocations.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also touched on maritime disputes in Asia, amid fears in Washington that they could spiral dangerously out of control and US concern over China's military build-up.
With ties sometimes fraught between the two militaries, Mullen stressed the US was in no way seeking to contain China's dramatic rise, but that the United States would remain active in the Asia Pacific region for a long time.
"North Korea and the leadership of North Korea is only predictable in one sense and that is -- if you base it historically -- they will continue to provocate," Mullen told reporters after arriving in Beijing, the first visit by a US chairman of the joint chiefs since 2007.
"The provocations I think now are potentially more dangerous than they have been in the past."
Tensions in Northeast Asia have risen sharply since South Korea accused the North of torpedoing a warship in March 2010, killing 46 sailors.
Pyongyang angrily denies the charge but went on to shell a border island in November, killing four South Koreans including two civilians.
Six-party nuclear disarmament talks, grouping the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been stalled since the North abandoned them in April 2009. It staged its second nuclear test a month later.
"All of us are focused on a stable outcome here of what is increasingly a difficult challenge with respect to the leadership in North Korea and what it might do," Mullen said.
"The Chinese leadership, they have a strong relationship with the leadership in Pyongyang and they exercise that routinely... continuing to do that as they have done in the past is really important."
On a four-day trip to China, Mullen said he would discuss that and other issues in talks with his counterpart General Chen Bingde, also visiting military bases as the two nations seek to bolster their security cooperation.
"The United States is deepening its commitment to this region and the alliances and partnerships that define our presence there," Mullen said in a speech at Beijing's Renmin University.
"We are, and will remain, a Pacific power, just as China is a Pacific power."
To help build trust with China, the two countries will conduct anti-piracy drills in the Gulf of Aden this year, host medical aid exercises and participate in joint disaster relief exercises next year, he said.
"This region and the global challenges that we face together are just too vital and too vast for us to continue to find obstacles to a better understanding of each other," Mullen told reporters.
The trip coincided with a joint naval exercise that began Saturday with the US, Japanese and Australian navies in the South China Sea, where recent Chinese assertiveness over territorial claims has raised tensions.
Mullen said Washington was concerned about freedom of navigation but expressed hope that myriad disputes in the South China Sea involving several nations and territories would be "resolved peacefully".
During his trip, the first to China by a US chairman of the joint chiefs since 2007, Mullen said he would also discuss the Taiwan issue, stability in the South China Sea and confidence-building measures between the two nations.
"Containing China is not the case... we would like to see China in the long run to be a strong partner with the United States to resolve some of the issues that we have got both regionally and globally," Mullen said.
As tensions in the South China Sea mount, China-US military exchanges have also picked up, with the former US defence secretary Robert Gates meeting Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie in Singapore in June.
Gates also visited Beijing in January.
Mullen dismissed suggestions that wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya had left the US military unable to play a strong role in the Pacific, describing the idea of America in decline as "just dead wrong".
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
S. Korea military seeks cash to raise readiness
Seoul (AFP) July 8, 2011
South Korea's defence ministry said Friday it has asked for a larger budget for next year to improve troops' readiness for combat and fortify frontline islands against North Korea. The ministry said in a statement it is seeking a budget of 33.5 trillion won ($29.1 billion) for 2012, a 6.6 percent increase from this year. "Our request was focused largely on building a military that is rea ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|