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China and US to Restore Military Ties
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Following talks between the commander of US forces in the Pacific and Chinese military leaders on Wednesday the two countries agreed to increase military exchanges at all levels.

"As an important part of bilateral relations China-US military ties have gradually been restored and developed in recent years," Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan told US Admiral William Fallon.

Ties between the two countries were broken off in 2001 when a Chinese fighter aircraft was hit and damaged by a US surveillance plane over the South China Sea.

Fallon's visit, the second to China since he assumed his post last February, was expected to help warm US military relations with China.

The planned 45-minute meeting between Cao and Fallon was extended to 90 minutes to allow a wide range of issues to be covered, sources with the Chinese Defense Ministry said.

China held a positive attitude on improving military ties with the US, Cao said. Contacts between senior military officials, exchanges between military academies and mechanism-based exchanges between the two countries had gone ahead as scheduled.

Fallon said it was important for the US and China to maintain sound and stable military relations. He hoped the two countries would step up exchanges and contacts at all levels and promote mutual understanding and trust.

"As the Taiwan issue has a bearing on the core interests of China we will ensure the peace and stability of Taiwan on the basis of the one-China principle and improve relations across the Strait," Cao said.

"We will show the greatest sincerity and make the utmost efforts to strive for peaceful reunification," he added.

Urging the US to oppose "Taiwan independence" Cao called for an end to US-Taiwan military contacts and US sales of advanced weapons to Taiwan.

Reaffirming the US government's one-China stance Fallon said he hoped the two sides across the Taiwan Strait would seek peaceful solutions to their differences and refrain from conflict. He also invited a Chinese delegation to observe US military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prior to meeting Cao, Fallon met with People's Liberation Army Deputy Chief of Staff Ge Zhenfeng and Chinese Foreign Ministry officials.

The defense departments of China and the US have restored a series of consultation mechanisms on maritime issues, humanitarian disaster relief and military environmental protection.

Last October, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld paid an official visit to China, his first since taking office in 2001.

This year will see increased exchanges between military institutions and staff, sources with Chinese Defense Ministry said, adding a senior Chinese officer would visit the US in July.

The long discussions on installing a hotline between the two defense ministries were expected to produce a result this year, the sources explained.

Fallon's weeklong trip will also take him to military academies and facilities in Xi'an, in Shaanxi Province; Hangzhou, in Zhejiang Province and Shenyang, in Liaoning Province.

Fallon will host a press briefing in Shenyang at the end of his tour on Monday. 

(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2006)



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