Gates May Meet Chinese Counterpart in Hanoi

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2010 — In a sign that the U.S.-China mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship is begin­ning to return to nor­mal, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates may meet with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part dur­ing meet­ings in Hanoi, Viet­nam, next week.

The sec­re­tary will par­tic­i­pate in an Asso­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Nations defense min­is­ters con­fer­ence in Hanoi next week that also will include the asso­ci­a­tion part­ner nations of Aus­tralia, Chi­na, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Rus­sia and the Unit­ed States.

This forum will, for the first time, offer the oppor­tu­ni­ty for defense lead­ers from the region to for­mal­ly come togeth­er and estab­lish a region­al secu­ri­ty dia­logue at the min­is­te­r­i­al lev­el,” Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence today. “A more reg­u­lar exchange of views will help build trust and trans­paren­cy in the region, which will be impor­tant as nations there con­tin­ue to devel­op new, more advanced mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties.”

Mor­rell said Gates hopes to meet with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part pri­vate­ly dur­ing the meet­ing. They will dis­cuss con­tin­ued progress in re-estab­lish­ing U.S.-Chinese mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary ties.

The roadmap first goes through Hawaii – where Chi­na will par­tic­i­pate in mar­itime con­sul­ta­tive talks with U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand offi­cials — and then to Wash­ing­ton, where Michele Flournoy, under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, will host her Chi­nese coun­ter­parts, Mor­rell said.

The mar­itime talks will fea­ture dis­cus­sion on ways the Unit­ed States and Chi­na can oper­ate and coop­er­ate on the high seas and in the air over them, Mor­rell explained. They will dis­cuss search and res­cue exer­cis­es and ways that U.S. and Chi­nese ships com­mu­ni­cate.

The defense talks will be in Novem­ber or Decem­ber, Mor­rell said. “Thus far, the talks have been large­ly focused on the mech­a­nisms, the logis­tics,” he said.

The Chi­nese would like Gates to vis­it Bei­jing, Mor­rell said. “They’ve asked us to look for oppor­tu­ni­ties in his cal­en­dar,” he said. “We’re doing that right now, look­ing for­ward to report­ing back on some pos­si­ble dates. And our expec­ta­tion is that we would be able to trav­el and engage with the Chi­nese as soon as pos­si­ble.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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