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Mattis, Chinese Counterpart to Meet    10/17 06:29

   U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis plans to meet on Thursday in Singapore 
with his Chinese counterpart just weeks after their talks planned for Beijing 
fell apart amid growing friction between the U.S. and China.

   SINGAPORE (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis plans to meet on 
Thursday in Singapore with his Chinese counterpart just weeks after their talks 
planned for Beijing fell apart amid growing friction between the U.S. and China.

   Shortly after Mattis arrived in Singapore on Wednesday after a visit to 
Vietnam, a senior Mattis aide told reporters that the meeting is set to happen 
on Thursday.

   Mattis and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe were in Singapore for a 
regional meeting of defense ministers. Mattis visited China in June, but since 
then a series of events have escalated tensions.

   The assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, 
Randall Schriver, told reporters the Chinese had requested the Singapore 
meeting. In late September, China told the Pentagon that Wei would be 
unavailable to meet Mattis in Beijing, so that visit was cancelled.

   Schriver said the U.S. sees signs that the military-to-military relationship 
may be on the upswing.

   "The fact that he's meeting with Minister Wei is some evidence that the 
Chinese are interested in keeping things normal and stable, as are we," 
Schriver said. "Our impression is that the (Chinese) military wants to keep 
things stable."

   Schriver said the trigger for recent tensions between the Pentagon and the 
Chinese military was the Trump administration's decision in September to 
sanction the Chinese military for buying Russian fighter planes and missiles. 
That action was taken under the Countering America's Adversaries Through 
Sanctions Act passed by Congress in 2017.

   China responded with strong criticism, followed in the military arena by a 
decision to cancel a planned visit to the Pentagon by the head of the Chinese 
navy and a confrontation in the South China Sea between a Chinese warship and a 
U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Decatur.

   "That may turn out to be a relatively short bump in the road," Schriver 
said, adding that Mattis is expected to convey to Wei U.S. interest in normal 
relations with the Chinese military.

   More broadly, relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated in 
recent months as escalating trade disputes and tariff hikes have been 
exacerbated by a newly announced U.S. military equipment sale to Taiwan.


(KA)

 
 
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