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BEIJING - Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie will travel to Vietnam next week to attend a security conference and meet with his US counterpart, a Chinese Defense Ministry official said Wednesday.
"Liang will attend a meeting in Hanoi of defense chiefs from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight other invited countries," Guan Youfei, deputy director of Foreign Affairs Office of China's Defense Ministry, told a press briefing on Wednesday.
Liang will address the conference, elaborating on China's defense policy and proposals on regional security cooperation, Guan said.
China's defense chief will have bilateral or multilateral meetings with his counterparts from some of the ASEAN nations and eight other countries on the sidelines of the security conference, which will convene its first session next Tuesday.
This will be the first meeting between the defense chiefs of the two countries after bilateral military ties were damaged in January following the Pentagon's decision to sell a nearly US$6.4-billion arms package to Taiwan, an inalienable part of China.
Liang will also meet one-on-one with defense chiefs from Australia, Republic of Korea, India and Laos, while meetings with other countries were being negotiated, Guan said.
The ASEAN+8 defense chiefs' conference serves the common interests of Asia and Pacific countries and works to ensure regional peace, stability and prosperity,Guan said.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam while the eight other countries include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, ROK and the United States.
"China holds a positive attitude towards the ASEAN+8 defense chiefs' conference and would like to work with other countries to seek substantive results from the conference," Guan said.
Guan also appreciated the preparation the hosting country Vietnam had made for the session.
Guan dismissed the speculation that the conference would discuss the South China Sea issue, saying "it is not on the agenda."
"China's consistent stance is that the South China Sea issue is not an issue between China and ASEAN, nor can the issue be discussed under the framework of ASEAN+8," Guan said.
Apart from attending the regional security conference, Liang will visit Vietnam at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh.
During his stay in Hanoi from Sunday to next Wednesday, Liang will meet with Nong Duc Manh, Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee general secretary and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
As this year coincided with the 60th anniversary of China-Vietnam diplomatic ties and marked China-Vietnam Friendship Year, China would like to make the best of Liang's visit to enhance bilateral trust, expand friendly exchanges, deepen substantial cooperation and seek a steady growth of bilateral military relations, Guan said.