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US Defense Chief Leon Panetta met with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie on Tuesday, during his three-day visit to China.

The pair told reporters afterwards they had candid discussions on a range of difficult issues, including arms sales to Taiwan, cyber security and the territorial dispute between China and Japan.

[Leon Panetta, United States Defense Secretary]:
“We have always tried to advance the security of the entire region, going all the way back to World War II. And so our purpose in being able to strengthen our presence in this region is to promote greater prosperity, to promote greater security in the Asia Pacific region. It is in both the interest of the United States and China to advance a strong Asia Pacific region that represents in many ways the future in the 21st century.”

The US has been shifting it strategic focus to Asia Pacific, and urged Chinese leaders towards wider military relations, so as to avoid unnecessary confrontations.

Panetta’s visit comes as Japan and the Chinese regime are locked in a heated dispute over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku Islands. He urged both sides for calm, and called on them to maintain open channels of communication.

The Chinese regime had earlier called Japan’s move to purchase the chain of islands as “illegal’. Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said Beijing reserves the right to take further action against Japan, but would work towards a peaceful resolution.

Panetta is slated to meet with China’s leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping before he leaves Beijing.

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