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US Commander Meets Chinese Officials Ahead Of Military Drill

Commander Gary Roughead.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 14, 2006
Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Gary Roughead is meeting Chinese militalry officials in Beijing this week, ahead of a joint military exercise in the South China Sea, the US embassy said Tuesday. "He is meeting his counterparts in the Chinese military," an embassy spokeswoman told AFP.

Roughead said Monday the search-and-rescue exercise would take place east of south China's Hainan Island on Sunday and he would this week meet various People's Liberation Army (PLA) officials before the drill.

The admiral, who arrived in China on Sunday for a week-long visit, said his trip was aimed at "how our navies can gain a better understanding of one another."

China's Ministry of Defence also said the exercises in the South China Sea were aimed at "helping improve understanding and build mutual trust between the two militaries," according to the official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday.

The exercise, the second phase of a two-part operation that began in the United States, will involve a Chinese guided missile destroyer and fuel tanker, working with a US missile destroyer Fitzgerald and the USS Juneau, Xinhua said.

The first phase of the US-China drills involved communications and passing exercises off the coast of Hawaii and a search and rescue exercise off the coast of southern California in September, according to the US navy website.

The admiral's visit came as a Washington Times report said a Chinese submarine approached US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk in the Pacific Ocean last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles.

The admiral on Monday declined to comment on the report, but said one purpose of his trip was to find out more about the purpose of China's military development.

"I really would like to know what the intent is in some of the developments that I see in the PLA navy," he said.

He said these included the expansion of China's submarine fleet and procurement of ships.

"I look foward to having discussions about what the vision is and perhaps what some of the operating doctrine might be," Roughead said.

The Chinese foreign ministry denied knowledge of the Washington Times report on Tuesday.

"I have not heard of such report, but... China has always implemented a national defense policy based on self-defense," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Moscow (RIA Novosti) Nov 09, 2006
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