US and Chinese military officials held "productive" talks in Washington on Friday, a senior Pentagon official said, while acknowledging that the two Pacific powers have divergent views on maritime security.
"While I won't say that we agreed on every issue, we had a very candid, frank and productive exchange of views," said Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy.
"These kinds of talks I believe contribute to improving the basis for more productive relationships between our two countries and militaries over time," she told reporters at the end of the defense consultative talks between the two countries.
The Chinese delegation was led by General Ma Xiaotian, the deputy chief of the general staff of the Peoples Liberation Army.
They come only weeks before China's President Hu Jintao visits the United States in January, and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates travels to Beijing next month.
Beijing abruptly broke off military contacts with Washington early this year in protest over a six billion dollar US arms package to Taiwan that included sales of missiles, helicopters and components for F-16 fighters.
Beijing considers Taiwan one of its provinces and does not rule out the use of force to recover it.
Flournoy acknowledged that Washington and Beijing have divergent views on maritime security, in light of incidents in September between Japan and China near a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.
"We both agree on the importance of safety and security, we both agree on the importance of abiding by international law and norms and yet at times there are incidents that occur where we have differences of perspective," she said.
Still, Flournoy said the US side had "a very productive comparing of notes" with the Chinese delegation and "discussed the importance of North Korea ending its provocative behavior."