Gates to visit China next month
BEIJING: China says U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit next month as the two militaries exchange high-level visits to boost communication following recent tensions.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency on Saturday cited a China military spokesman as saying Gates will visit Jan. 1014. The report said Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, will visit the United States next year at "a mutually convenient date."
Gates had planned to travel to China during an Asia visit earlier in the year but China declined to officially invite him at that time, when relations were strained over recent U.S. sales of defense items to selfruled Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory.
Guan Youfei, deputy director of the foreign affairs office of China's national defense ministry, made the comments Friday during the 11th ChinaU.S. deputy ministerial-level meetings in Washington.
The U.S. military chief, Adm. Mike Mullen, on Thursday announced the exchange of visits with no specifics.
China suspended militaryto-military contacts in January over the U.S. sale of $6.5 billion worth defense items to Taiwan. But ties have slowly improved over recent months, and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie met in October with Gates at a regional meeting of defense chiefs in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.
Recent military talks between the two sides have touched on the tensions on the Korean peninsula, security in the South China Sea and nuclear issues relating to North Korea and Iran. "I don't understand much about what they are doing and why they are doing it." -Ap