Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Chinese minister of defense due at Pentagon for talks

AFP, WASHINGTON

The Pentagon is to host Chinese Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan (常萬全) for talks tomorrow at a time of “positive momentum” in military relations between the two countries, a US official said.

Chang was due to start his visit on Friday in Hawaii, where he was scheduled to meet the head of US Pacific Command, before heading to Colorado to the headquarters for Northern Command, which oversees forces in North America, officials said.

US military officials have touted progress in the defense dialogue with China after years of false starts and say a counter-piracy exercise next week in the Gulf of Aden will see unprecedented cooperation between the two countries’ naval forces.

US concerns over Chinese cyberespionage are expected to feature high on the agenda when Chang meets his US counterpart, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Washington tomorrow.

At a security conference in Singapore in June, Hagel blamed the Chinese government and armed forces for snooping on sensitive US computer networks.

Some cyberintrusions “appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Hagel said in the speech.

However, revelations about US electronic surveillance of Internet traffic and telephone records, leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, have made it more difficult for Washington to level accusations against Beijing.

Chang’s meeting with Hagel and other senior officials and officers will allow “the two leaders an opportunity to have a robust exchange of views on a variety of issues in the US-China relationship,” including cybersecurity, the defense official said.

The talks are also likely to cover North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China and neighboring nations and rival claims between Japan and China over islands in the East China Sea.

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