Speaking with the visiting Chinese defense minister yesterday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that Washington and Beijing will be conducting joint exercises in the Gulf of Aden.
“We are expanding our cooperation, particularly in areas such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counterpiracy,” Panetta said. “And later this year, in fact, the United States and Chinese ships will conduct a combined counterpiracy exercise in the Gulf of Aden.”
Panetta noted that the new Defense Strategy recently released by the Pentagon says “that no region is more important than the Asia-Pacific for our country’s future peace and prosperity.”
“We recognize that the United States and China will not always agree on every issue,” he said. “But we believe our military-to-military dialogue is critical to ensuring that we avoid dangerous misunderstandings and misperceptions that could lead to crisis.”
Gen. Liang Guanglie said the two defense chiefs had “committed to building a sound, stable and reliable military-to-military relationship in accordance with President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama’s shared vision for a China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.”
“At present, China-U.S. bilateral relationship is on a new starting line in history to build a new type of China-U.S. military relationship based on equality, cooperation and mutual benefit which is in accordance with the level of China-U.S. cooperative partnership,” the Chinese defense leader said.
Liang’s visit was the first by a PRC defense minister to the United States in nine years.