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Gates could meet Chinese counterpart next week

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • A meeting could be held when both are in Vietnam next week
  • The Chinese also have asked Gates to come to Beijing for meetings
  • A pair of preliminary meetings are planned

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. secretary of defense could meet with his Chinese counterpart during meetings in Vietnam next week, the Pentagon's spokesman said Tuesday.

"I don't know that we have confirmed it, as of yet. But I think both sides clearly wish to have such a meeting, so we're working right now on the logistics of doing so, " Geoff Morrell said at a news conference. The meeting would take place during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meeting in Hanoi.

In addition, the Chinese government has asked U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to come for meetings with his counterparts in Beijing,

That visit, not yet scheduled but expected to happen next year, represents a further re-engagement by the Chinese after angrily shutting down military-to-military discussions after the United States announced arms sales to Taiwan.

The visit would be preceded by two preliminary meetings. The first will take place next week in Hawaii between a two-star officer from U.S. Pacific Command and a Chinese counterpart to discuss "operational safety" at sea and air, according to Morrell.

The October meeting would be followed by a higher level one in Washington this November or December.