The US wants to expand military cooperation with China to intensify collaboration in the areas of humanitarian exercises, disaster relief and counter piracy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said, as he prepares to embark on a trip to the country to resume the suspended military dialogue.
Gates is scheduled to leave for China on Saturday for his first official visit to the country since 2007. The visit will see the resumption of military dialogue between the two countries.
The dialogue was stopped last year by China after the US announced arms package to Taiwan and US President Barak Obama met the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, despite strong protest by Beijing.
"I am eager to explore where we can further develop and deepen a dialogue on a number of issues of mutual concern and where we have -- and where we both have interests -- North Korea is an obvious example, but Iran, a number of other areas where we are engaged with the Chinese and where there are security issues involved," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Gates said expanding the dialogue is important, and so is to explore areas of partnership in military-to-military cooperation.
"Whether it's in training and exercising for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counter piracy, there are variety of areas where actually our interests coincide and where I think we can explore working together as equal partners and develop the relationship further," Gates
said in response to a question.
Meanwhile, Michael Schiffer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said at a forum hosted by the International Institute of Strategic Studies that the "on-again, off-again" relationship the United States has had with China is harmful and it is in both countries' interests to develop better and enduring military-to-military relations.
In building a durable framework for lasting relations, Schiffer said, Gates and his Chinese counterpart must show their nations' mutual respect and trust of each other, have reciprocity in areas such as military cooperation and trade, work for the countries' mutual interests, work to reduce security risks in Asia, and continue to talk even when there are disagreements.
Gates' goals for his meetings with Chinese officials include creating clear and open channels for dialogue and having greater transparency into each other's militaries, Schiffer said.