China, US discuss setting up defense hotline
"Defence Secretary Rumsfeld is willing to visit China this year, but the specific timing will be decided after further discussions between the two military sides," said Colonel Tu Qiming, director of the American and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Affairs Office at the National Defence Ministry.
Tu made the remarks at the end of a first day of defence talks involving Zhang Bangdong, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the ministry, and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia and the Pacific Richard Lawless.
Lawless declined to comment on yesterday's meeting.
It is the first-ever "special defence policy dialogue" between the two defence ministries, according to the Chinese military side.
The two-day closed-door talks continue today. Lawless is scheduled to meet Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, this morning.
During yesterday's talks, the two sides expressed "hopes that the Taiwan question can be peacefully resolved," said Tu, adding that both sides are opposed to "Taiwan independence."
"This meeting represents the importance both sides have attached to their military relations and both sides feel the relationship is developing in a frank and constructive manner," he said.
Citing the on-going communication between the two ministries as "smooth," Tu said installing a hotline between the two ministries is under discussion, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Tu denied that the two sides discussed the European Union's proposed plan to lift a 15-year arms embargo against China this year.
A senior-level Russian military delegation is also having closed-door talks with Chinese side this week with the first-ever upcoming joint military exercises between the two likely to be on the agenda.
"We will hold our first joint command staff exercises with the Chinese army in August or September involving various forces to practice issues involving fighting our common enemy - international terrorism," Russian First Deputy Defence Minister Colonel General Alexander Belousov said over the weekend.