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Xi stresses cooperation in talks with US military chief

Washington, Beijing set up new military communication mechanism

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, chatted with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.   © AP

BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping called for cooperation between Beijing and Washington in a meeting here Thursday with the top American military officer, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi told Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the two countries should deal appropriately with their differences and work together to build a better future. The president was likely alluding to such issues as North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Though bilateral relations can be stormy at times, rain is followed by a rainbow, Xi said. Dunford expressed hope that the two sides can improve risk management and promote the development of ties between their militaries.

Coinciding with Dunford's visit, the U.S. and Chinese militaries signed an agreement to establish a mechanism for communication between the countries' joint staffs. Xi praised the arrangement, saying it will play a positive role in improving bilateral relations.

Gen. Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, spoke with Dunford before the meeting with Xi. Fan insisted that military action must not be considered an option for dealing with North Korea, responding to U.S. President Donald Trump's recent threats of force.

A military solution would be "absolutely horrific," Dunford told reporters after the meetings, according to The Associated Press. But, he added, "what's unimaginable is allowing KJU [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] to develop ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can threaten the United States and continue to threaten the region."

The meeting marked Xi's first public appearance since Aug. 1. The president is thought to have met with Communist Party elites and retired party elders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe to discuss the leadership reshuffle at the twice-a-decade party congress this fall. This return to official duties confirms that the retreat is over.

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