Beijing, China (CNN) -- China's Foreign Ministry has confirmed for the first time that President Hu Jintao will visit the United States early next year.
The trip will be "profound and far-reaching for bilateral ties," state-run media reported, saying that preparations have begun for the visit.
"China and the United States have maintained close communications about the visit, which will be very important and will bring far-reaching influence for bilateral relations in new era," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Thursday, according to China Daily.
U.S. President Barack Obama referred to Hu's visit last month, while China's Premier Wen Jiabao was in New York to address the U.N. General Assembly.
The countries "have to work cooperatively together in order to achieve regional peace and stability, because the world looks to the relationship between China and the United States as a critical ingredient on a whole range of security issues around the world," Obama also said at the time.
Relations between the two countries have hit rough patches in the past year. Washington has been pressing Beijing to allow its currency to appreciate more freely. Some critics in the United States have accused China of manipulating the yuan, giving its exports an edge in the global marketplace. China also broke off military ties early this year over the U.S. sale of arms to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province.
The defense chiefs for China and the United States met last week, signaling a warming of relations between the countries.
Chinese Defense Minister General Liang Guanglie and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates talked in Vietnam, while they attended a security forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Hu's last state visit to the United States was in April 2006, during the Bush administration.