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

07-12-2012 08:14 BJT

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.

Locklear said he believed that China should have not only a role in the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, but " a productive role in it."

He also expressed the hope that the two sides would work to avoid miscalculation in future. "What we are all concerned about is miscalculation," the admiral said, calling military-to-military engagements a way to help in clarifying intentions and preventing conflict.

"Neither government, nor do I think any of our allies or our partners, want to have a conflict between China and the United States," Locklear said. "It just doesn't make any sense."

China has said that the U.S. reinforcement of military deployment in the Asia-Pacific is not conducive to security and mutual trust in the region.

Defense Ministry Spokesman Geng Yansheng said in June that the two sides agreed during Locklear's visit that they have important common interests in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia- Pacific.

They also agreed that the two armed forces should boost dialogue and cooperation, so as to jointly contribute to peace and stability in the region.

"China has always attached great importance to developing military relations with the United States, and is willing to push forward the healthy and stable development of bilateral military ties on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust, equality and reciprocity," Geng said.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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