US Defense Secretary Ash Carter repeated Washington’s call for a halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea even as he said the Pentagon remains committed to expanding military contacts with China.
In the meeting with General Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, Carter stressed his commitment to developing “a sustained and substantive US-China military-to-military relationship”, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the US defense department.
Pentagon said such a relationship would be based on a shared desire to deepen cooperation in areas, including humanitarian assistance, disaster response, peacekeeping, counter-piracy as well as “constructive management of differences”.
Reiterating US concerns about tensions in the South China Sea, Carter called on China and all rival claimants to halt land reclamation and militarization of disputed territory, and to pursue a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law.
Carter also reaffirmed his commitment to reach a consensus by September on a memorandum of understanding aimed at reducing the risk of accidents when the two countries’ aircraft operate in close proximity, the statement said.
Fan’s visit to the Pentagon was part of a week-long trip to the United States, which will include a meeting with US National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House on Friday.
Earlier this week, Fan visited the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and US military bases.
Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said on Wednesday that Fan’s trip was aimed at preparing the way for a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September.
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