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US, Chinese Security Officials Discuss Defense Relations

The U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday the Pentagon’s top official for Asia has discussed U.S.-China defense relations and regional security issues with a Chinese foreign ministry official.

The talks between Ely Ratner, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, and Yang Tao, director of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, came days after Ratner and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrapped up a trip focused on strengthening defense ties with Australia and Papua New Guinea and promoting a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners said in a statement Wednesday that Ratner “also emphasized the Department’s ongoing commitment to maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication” between the United States and China in his talks with Yang.

U.S. officials have spoken of the need for U.S.-China communications as a way to avoid conflict.

Austin told an Asian security forum in June that such communication is essential to prevent miscalculations.

Chinese National Defense Minister Li Shangfu refused Austin’s requests to meet during the summit, and the two defense chiefs only shook hands without any “substantive exchange,” the Pentagon said.

Source : VOA News