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U.S. Pacific commander hails China visit as new start in normalizing military ties

(Xinhua)

13:41, July 12, 2012

WASHINGTON, July 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Pacific commander Samuel Locklear hailed his just-concluded visit to China as a new start to normalize the "on-again, off-again" U.S.-China military relations, the American Forces Press Service (AFPS) reported Wednesday.

Speaking to the AFPS on his flight to Australia, Locklear said that he was more convinced after the late June visit that the two countries can build on common ground as they strive to get their military-to-military ties back on track.

Locklear spent four days in China in late June, during which he held meetings with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, and other senior Chinese military leaders.

His visit, the first for a U.S. Pacific Command chief in four years, came as the two sides tried to normalize their military-to- military ties, which were severed in early 2010 when the U.S. announced a major arms sales deal to the Chinese island of Taiwan.

Since taking the helm at the Pacific Command in April, Locklear has made restoring the U.S.-China military relationship a top priority. "Both nations realize that it's not in the best interests of anyone in the world for the U.S. and China not to have a favorable relationship with each other, and that good military-to-military relations [are] critical to that," he said.

"You can't have a relationship with somebody you don't talk to, " Locklear said, adding that the U.S. and China should have a " frank dialogue." During the meetings with Chinese military leaders, Locklear said he explained the renewed U.S. focus on the Asia-Pacific region, a cornerstone of the new U.S. strategic guidance, and emphasized that it in no way intends to "contain" China.

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