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China, US eye restoring comprehensive military ties
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China and the United States are looking at restoring comprehensive military relations after resuming defense talks that were suspended for 18 months.

Defense officials from China and the United States concluded Wednesday the 10th annual round of defense consultations, the first and highest-level defense dialogue since the Obama administration took office.

"China wants to develop its military relations with the United States based on the principles of mutual respect, trust, reciprocity and mutual benefit," Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, told a press conference after the talks.

He said China also proposed to construct a pattern for military exchange and cooperation with the United States with features of "reciprocity" and "mutual benefit."

"We hope the United States would take substantial measures to remove the barriers that hinder our military relations and make efforts to promote long-term, stable development between the two militaries," Ma told reporters.

Sino-U.S. defense consultations were suspended after the Bush administration announced a 6.5-billion-U.S.-dollar arms package for Taiwan last year.

High-level military talks resumed in February, when David Sedney, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense, visited Beijing.

According to Ma, the two sides, during the talks, touched on the issues of Taiwan, the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, anti-terrorism efforts, the Korean nuclear issue, the Iran nuclear issue and nuclear disarmament.

A focus of China-U.S. ties was the Taiwan issue and U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, Ma said, noting that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan were the biggest factor undermining bilateral military ties.

China also reaffirmed its opposition to U.S. planes and ships entering China's exclusive economic zone, according to a press release from the Chinese defense ministry. However, it also expressed willingness to maintain consultation with the U.S. side on related issues.

"We hope both sides could make joint efforts to avoid any air-sea accidents that might affect bilateral relations," Ma added.

The two sides also agreed to hold special consultations in Beijing in late July to address the issue of military security at sea.

For the Korean nuclear issue, the two sides agreed it was a serious concern for the relevant nations.

"For the security of the northeast Asian region, the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula is not only a serious concern for the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, but also for China," Ma said.

He insisted that the issue should be addressed by diplomatic means and through consultation and dialogue.

The 11-member U.S. delegation was led by Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, who is in charge of the formulation of national security and defense policy.

This round talks marks the resumption of the deputy-ministerial level defense consultations. The last such meeting was in December 2007.

(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2009)

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