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Chinese, US Navies to Conduct Joint Rescue Drill
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The Chinese and US navies will conduct a major search-and-rescue exercise this coming weekend to improve co-ordination in maritime disaster relief.

It will be the second phase of a two-part operation agreed to by the two sides in 1998's Military Maritime Consultative Agreement.

US Admiral Gary Roughead, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, arrived in Beijing late on Sunday kicking off a week-long visit to China.

The exercise will take place off South China's island province of Hainan, involving about 700 personnel. The first phase of the exercise was conducted off the coasts of Hawaii and California in September.

"Such exercises contribute to an improved working relationship and act as a foundation for increasing disaster responsiveness and promoting regional security," he said Monday.

Roughead is scheduled to meet the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Commander Wu Shengli and Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei.

"The thrust of our discussions will really be in how our navies can gain a better understanding of one another," said Roughead, on his first visit to China since taking the post in July 2005.

He will also visit the USS Juneau, which will participate in the exercise before making a port call in the southern city of Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province.

Roughead said he hoped such exchanges would be conducive to building personal ties between the two nations' military leaders and help solve misunderstandings.

Peng Guangqian, a researcher with the PLA's Academy of Military Sciences, said the joint exercise would help the two sides objectively learn about each other.

"Mutual trust can only be established step by step," Peng said. "The joint exercise will bring the two countries closer in upgrading military ties."

(China Daily November 14, 2006)

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