Thursday, 16 April, 2009

Obama calls for better military dialogue with China

US President Barack Obama told Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi that the two countries need to increase military dialogue following the weekend naval confrontation in the South China Sea, the White House said.
Obama met Yang Thursday for a wide-ranging discussion that included the economic crisis, reining in North Koreas nuclear programme as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the situation in Sudans troubled Darfur region, the White House said.

The meeting took place as the two countries blamed each other for the incident last Sunday that occurred when five Chinese ships approached a US Navy vessel. The Pentagon accused the Chinese of harassing the American ship in international waters, while Beijing say the ship was operating illegally.

Obama stressed the importance of raising the level and frequency of the US-China military-to-military dialogue in order to avoid future incidents, the White House said.

Yang met US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Wednesday. China is seen as playing a key role in stabilising the global economy following last years meltdown in the financial sector, and his talks in Washington came ahead of next months meeting of the world 20 leading economies (G20) in London.

Clinton included a stop in China during her first visit abroad last month in a sign of the growing importance the Obama administration is placing on Asia.

The two agreed that China and the US must work closely and urgently, as two of the worlds leading economies, to stabilise the global economy by stimulating demand at home and abroad, and get credit markets flowing, the White House said.

Obama and Yang also discussed trade and human rights issues, and the president urged China to hold talks with the representative of the Dalai Lama over Tibet.

The US Defence Department Monday accused the Chinese Navy of using aggressive tactics to impede the movement of a US surveillance ship, the USNS Impecable, while it was sailing in the South China Sea. China maintains the area falls into its exclusive economic zone.

The Impecable is responsible for underwater mapping and for detecting submarine movement with a host of sonar arrays.

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