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US military chief to pay rare China visit

03 april 2013, 11:11
0
US Army General Martin Dempsey. ©REUTERS/Gary Cameron
US Army General Martin Dempsey. ©REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Top US military officer General Martin Dempsey will pay a rare visit to China this month as the Pacific powers discuss concern over tensions with North Korea, AFP reports citing the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Dempsey's visit when he paid a congratulatory telephone call to China's new defense minister, General Chang Wanquan, Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

Hagel "said he looks forward to hearing the results of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Marty Dempsey's trip to China later this month," Little said in a statement.

Little said that Hagel also invited Chang to visit the United States later this year.

The telephone call comes as the United States shifts its military in Asia in a show of force aimed at deterring North Korea, which has defied even its ally China in recent months with actions including a nuclear test.

Hagel told Chang of the "growing threat to the US and our allies posed by North Korea's aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs" and called for US-China cooperation, Little said.

The United States and China hold frequent talks but defense relations are less regular, with US policymakers perceiving the military as the most suspicious of the outside world among the power centers in Beijing.

China has frequently snapped off military contact with Washington to protest US military sales to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a territory awaiting reunification.

US law requires the administration to assist Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, in ensuring its self-defense.

Dempsey's predecessor, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited China in 2011 in what was the first trip by a US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in four years.

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