Oz, US to invite China to join tri-nation military exercises
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Last Updated: Thursday, September 03, 2009, 13:24
Melbourne: Australia and the United States will invite China to join three-nation military exercises to ease fears about Beijing's growing military ambitions and improve defence and diplomatic ties.

US Pacific Command chief Timothy Keating and chief of the Australian Defence Forces Angus Houston met in Sydney this week and decided to approach the Chinese Ministry of National Defence separately to hold exercises and develop military relations "at the earliest opportunity", the 'Sydney Morning Herald' newspaper reported today.

Keating, who heads the largest of America's global commands, said the US - like Australia - was concerned over China's military build-up appeared to extend beyond purely defensive purposes. "We are anxious to engage with them," he was quoted by as saying.

"We want to understand much better than we do now China's intentions. China does publish a (defence) white paper but we find it to be less than fulfilling," he said.

Keating said the exercises would start with small naval and land activities - to be followed by personnel exchanges - and would mark a breakthrough for improving ties.

Asked whether strengthening ties would upset regional allies and powers such as India, Japan and South Korea, he said: "(Air Chief Marshal Houston and I) talked about that of course. We can control the rheostat on this and invite nations to observe and participate. It is a fairly simple thing to do."

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, September 03, 2009, 13:24

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