Nov 5, 2007

Gates: China urging Iran on nukes

BEIJING, China (AP) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday hailed deepening dialogue between the United States and China and said Beijing is helping to put pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.

Gates has made it clear that he is pursuing a closer alliance with China.

At a news conference with Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan following their meeting, Gates said they "discussed ways to build on positive momentum in our defense relations and how to use these interactions to improve communications and reduce the risk of misunderstanding."
Cao described his meeting with Gates as "pragmatic, candid, and productive" and said future military exchanges will "deepen our friendship and cooperation."
The two men emphasized bilateral cooperation and communication, but they also discussed the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"We agreed that it's important to pursue efforts to persuade the Iranian government to change their behavior and their policies peacefully, through diplomatic means," Gates said. They discussed continued and increased economic pressure "as a way of persuading the Iranian government to make different choices."
Gates said North Korea and Sudan are two other areas where China could play an important supporting role.
There was little information, however, about a missile test which China conducted in January.
The United States lodged a formal protest after the test, which involved a ground-based, medium-range ballistic missile destroying an old Chinese weather satellite. Several U.S. allies also raised protests.
Asked whether he had broached the topic or received more information about it, Gates said only that he raised U.S. concerns but there was no further discussion.
During their meeting, Gates said, he raised "uncertainty" over China's military modernization and pressed for "greater transparency to allay international concerns."
Gates and Cao agreed to several specific items which they said would improve bilateral defense relations.
Among them is the establishment of a direct military phone link between Washington and Beijing. The line is going ahead but Cao said technical problems with the hotline still need to be worked out.
Gates and Cao also agreed to conduct a joint naval exercise at some point in the future, and to improve cooperation with each other's military archives to provide a better accounting of U.S. prisoners of war from the Korean War.
They also vowed to have more military exchanges at all levels, including at an educational level for U.S. and Chinese officers and cadets.
Gates said there are "significant opportunities" to expand bilateral military discussions on both agreements and disagreements.

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