Pentagon: China, US resuming military consultations

08:30, September 30, 2010      

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China and the United States, after several months of locking heads over policies and diplomatic postures, are resuming high-level military dialogue, with talks scheduled in Hawaii in mid-October and more in Washington later, the US Department of Defense said Wednesday.

The announcement signaled an end to China's freeze on military contacts with the United States, imposed after the Obama administration notified Congress in January of a potential $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan, The Reuters said in a report.

U.S. and Chinese officials would meet for talks as part of a maritime agreement in Hawaii on October 14-15. They would then hold high-level defense consultations in Washington later in the year, a Pentagon spokesman said. Lower-level contacts between the U.S. and Chinese militaries would resume as well.

Asked whether this represented the end of the freeze, Colonel Dave Lapan said: "I'd say yes."

"We've agreed to resume these types of engagements," he said.

The decision to resume talks followed a trip by Michael Schiffer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, to Beijing this week.

"The intent was to have a conversation about how to reinvigorate and put onto a normal track our military-to-military exchanges," Lapan said.

Earlier, U.S.-South Korean military drills in the Yellow Sea have also sparked an outcry in China, considering the military muscle-flexing just 800 kilometers away from Beijing, despite official U.S. assurances they are aimed at North Korea, not Beijing.

A question still outstanding is whether U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates might visit China. Beijing took the extraordinary step of turning down a proposed fence-mending visit by Gates in June, The Reuters reported.

Lapan said talk of a visit by Gates came up during this week's talks in Beijing.

"That was a topic of conversation during these talks. No decisions were made but we may see something on that in the future," Lapan said.

By People's Daily Online


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