U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno told reporters in
Beijing that he had had "frank, honest and important" talks with his
Chinese counterparts on establishing deeper dialogue between the two
"This is really about expanding cooperation, and, frankly, managing
competition. We want to expand our cooperation at a very high level,
deepen our cooperation in areas of mutual interest and then manage
our differences constructively," Odierno said.
"I believe we have lots in common, with not only the Chinese
government but the Chinese military. It's important for us that we
emphasize engagement, dialogue and understanding and build trust
between our militaries.
China and the United States have numerous diplomatic disagreements
in the region, including China's moves to assert sovereignty in the
South and East China Sea and U.S. support for self-ruled Taiwan,
claimed by Beijing as a wayward province.
"Those are all issues that we've been working through for a long
time and will continue to work through," Odierno said.
The Chinese and U.S. militaries have faced off on several occasions
in recent years, raising the fear of an unintended clash because of
a lack of proper communication channels between the two sides.
In December, a U.S. guided missile cruiser operating in
international waters in the South China Sea was forced to take
evasive action to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship
"Building a relationship where you can pick up the phone and call
your counterpart, having the ability to build confidence in each
other where you'ves dealt with each other on several occasions really
helps to mitigate potential miscalculation and problems," Odierno
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TENSION WITH JAPAN
The Pentagon on Thursday played down remarks by a senior U.S. Navy
intelligence officer who told a public forum that he believed China
was training its forces to be capable of carrying out a "short,
sharp" war with Japan in the East China Sea.
Asked about the officer's comments, Odierno said: "I've seen no
indications of that at all."
While the East China Sea and China's increasingly bitter dispute
with Japan over ownership of a group of uninhabited islands there
was not a major feature of his talks, Odierno said he emphasized the
importance of dialogue.
"We reinforced the importance of dialogue and discussion between the
Japanese and the Chinese regarding this issue," he added.
Odierno said he expected more progress to be made on boosting
military-to-military relations when U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel visits China in April.
"There's plenty of leeway for us to develop a strong, long-term
relationship," he said.
Odierno did not bring up, and was not asked about, a meeting in
Washington on Friday between President Barack Obama and the Dalai
Lama, which China condemned as interference in its internal affairs.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Robert Birsel)
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