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Defense Ministry underlines Asian-Pacific peace, stability

(Xinhua)

09:45, February 24, 2012

BEIJING, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- China's Defense Ministry on Thursday stressed that Asian-Pacific peace and stability should be safeguarded and that China is ready to work with the United States to advance military-to-military links in a healthy and stable way.

Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a monthly press conference that China has always placed importance on expanding military-to-military links with the United States, referring to their relationship as one of the most important bilateral ties in the world.

The two militaries have carried out sound cooperation in multiple areas in recent years, although their ties still face certain difficulties and obstacles.

"We are ready to work with the U.S. by observing the principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual benefit, to respect and take care of each other's core interests and major concerns, properly handle differences and controversial issues, cultivate strategic mutual trust and push forward China-U.S. military links in a healthy and stable way," Geng said.

During Vice President Xi Jinping's official visit to the United States last week, Xi exchanged views with U.S. leaders and military officials on bilateral and military-to-military ties, according to Geng.

"The visit was of great significance to guiding the development of relations between the two countries and the two militaries," he said.

While commenting on military drills the United States plans to conduct with some of China's neighboring countries, the spokesman said China believes that the peace and stability of the Asian-Pacific region is in the common interest of countries in the region.

A major annual drill held by the United States and the Republic of Korea known as "Key Resolve" will run from Feb. 27 to March 9. Another joint air, ground and naval field training exercise known as "Foal Eagle" will be held from March 1 to April 30.

Geng said all relevant sides should take the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula into consideration.

Maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula is in the common interest of all sides, and China will make unremitting efforts to that end, he said.

Another exercise dubbed "Cobra Gold" was recently wrapped up in east Thailand. The 10-day multinational military exercise was led by the U.S., with at least five other Asian nations, including Japan and the ROK, participating in the exercise.

China's armed forces have observed the exercise since 2002 at the invitation of Thai armed forces, Geng said, adding that China sent a four-member team to watch this year's exercise.

Countries' defense cooperation should be conducive to regional peace and stability and not target a third party, Geng said.

When asked to comment on media allegations that frequent visits to the west Pacific by vessels of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy were meant to prepare for an attack on Taiwan, Geng said the drills were "routine arrangements."

"As we have repeatedly stated, the drills were not directed at any specific target," said the spokesman.

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