US, China discuss North Korea, maritime security

US and Chinese military officials met for "frank" and "candid" talks.

Washington: US and Chinese military officials met on Friday for "frank" and "candid" talks that included North Korea, maritime security and Iran, part of a bid to restart bilateral military ties, a US official said.

Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defence for policy, met with General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the People`s Liberation Army, for periodic military talks.

"This meeting was part of a restart of US-China military to military relationship, which is a very important one," Flournoy told reporters.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates will visit China next month as the world`s two largest economies try to smooth differences over Taiwan, military exercises and China`s response to North Korea`s artillery attack last month on a South Korean island.

China has hit back at the United States and its Asian allies for their refusal to talk to isolated North Korea, saying dialogue is the only way to calm escalating tensions on the divided peninsula.

Washington has called on Beijing to take its ally to task after last month`s shelling and after North Korea revealed advances to its nuclear program opening another route to make an atomic bomb.

"I won`t say we agreed on every issue. Where we did differ, we had a very candid and frank and productive exchange of views," Flournoy said of Friday`s talks.

While the two countries have been at odds over naval drills in seas close to China and over Chinese claims to the South China sea, Flournoy praised China for supporting talks between major powers and Tehran over Iran`s disputed nuclear program.

The two officials discussed common interests in stability on the Korean peninsula and "getting North Korea back on a path demonstrating its willingness to denuclearise”, Flournoy said.

Bureau Report