Washington: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
has called off plans to visit China next week after Beijing
told the Pentagon the timing was "inconvenient," officials
said on Wednesday.
The snub came despite an invitation last year from
China`s second-ranking officer, General Xu Caihou, for Gates
to visit the country in 2010, and after repeated appeals from
Washington to bolster military dialogue.
"The Chinese have told us this is not a convenient time
for them," a senior defense official, who spoke on condition
of anonymity, told reporters.
Gates had tentatively planned to travel to China after
attending an annual Asia security conference in Singapore this
week, press secretary Geoff Morrell said.
The defense secretary still hoped to visit China another
time and would continue to argue for the benefits of forging
stronger relations between the countries` military leaders,
The Chinese were sending a general to the Singapore
conference but Gates did not plan on meeting the delegation,
which the Pentagon viewed as too low level, he said.
China denounced US arms sales to Taiwan unveiled in
January and its latest move appeared to fit a familiar pattern
in which it has postponed some scheduled high-level exchanges
with the American military.