Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates hosted Gen. Xu Caihou (corrected), vice chairman of the People's Liberation Army Central Military Commission for meetings today at the Pentagon. The two reaffirmed the consensus reached by President Obama and President Hu Jintao in April to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship for the 21st century. They agreed on the need to work together to address the issues of Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Both sides agreed to strengthen efforts to build a sound and sustainable military to military relationship. They discussed ways to further develop and improve the military-to-military relationship and agreed on the need to improve mutual understanding and trust between our armed forces. Toward this end, Gates stressed the the value of maintaining continuous dialogue based on open and substantive discussion of strategic issues and gained agreement from Xu on a series of military- to-military contacts and exchanges focused on:
- Promoting high-level visits: In 2010, Gates will visit China, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael G. Mullen will also visit China after receiving his counterpart for a visit in the United States.
- Enhancing cooperation in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief:The two sides agreed to conduct a joint maritime search and rescue exercise.
- Deepening military medical cooperation, particularly in the area of pandemic disease: The two sides agreed to conduct subject matter expert exchanges.
- Expanding service-level exchanges between our two armies.
- Enhancing the program of mid-grade and junior officer exchanges.
- Promoting cultural and sports exchanges between the armed forces.
- Invigorating the existing diplomatic and consultative mechanisms in order to improve military maritime operational and tactical safety of the two armed forces when we operate near each other: The next opportunity will be the Defense Policy Coordination Talks and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement discussions that will be held in December 2009.
Following his meeting, Xu laid a wreath at the Pentagon Memorial. His Oct. 24-31 visit includes stops at U.S. Naval Academy, Fort Benning, U.S. Strategic Command, Nellis Air Force Base, Naval Air Station North Island (including a tour of the USS Ronald Reagan), and a follow-on visit Nov. 1 -3 to the U.S. Pacific Command.