Panetta in Beijing amid escalating Sino-Japan tensions

Last Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 20:07

Beijing: US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta arrived here Monday from Tokyo amid an escalating conflict between China and Japan over a group of disputed islands.

During his four-day stay, Panetta will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie.

He is also slated to deliver a speech at the Armed Force Engineering Institute in Beijing and visit a naval facility in east China`s city of Qingdao.

The Chinese Defence ministry said that the two militaries will conduct exchanges regarding their bilateral contact mechanism and military academies, as well as hold joint anti-piracy maritime exercises.

Most importantly, he is coming from Tokyo where he held extensive talks with Japanese leaders on the deteriorating ties between China and Japan over the Diaoyu islands, called Senkaku isles by Japan.

China has launched a barrage of measures against Tokyo, after Japan bought the islands from a private Japanese party last week, while Chinese took to streets to protest the Japanese take over.

Panetta has been advocating restraint by both the sides.

"I am concerned that when these countries engage in provocations of one kind or another over these various islands, that it raises the possibility that a misjudgement on one side or the other could result in violence, and could result in conflict," Panetta told reporters travelling on his plane.

"And that conflict would then have the potential of expanding".

It is not yet clear whether he is carrying any peace plan from Japan to end the crisis.

China meanwhile said US should not extend the US-Japanese Defence Treaty to the island`s dispute.

Asked about the US stand over the islands, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told the media that "we hope that US side earnestly honour the principles of not taking a stand on the Diaoyu islands issue".

Meanwhile, Chinese protest demonstrations against Japan over disputed islands took an ugly turn with protesters attacking some of the top Japanese firms including Panasonic and Canon.

PTI



First Published: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 20:07

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