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China, US working on defense meeting amid spike in tensions

BEIJING (AP) — China said Thursday it is working with the Pentagon on arranging a visit to the U.S. by Defense Minister Wei Fenghe that has been sidelined by a spike in tensions.

Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian told reporters the sides were communicating closely on a visit and that Beijing hopes the U.S. will work with it to strengthen cooperation, boost mutual trust and “control risks.”

“Chinese and U.S. defense establishments are working closely on a visit,” Wu said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met Thursday with Wei on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Singapore.

While that meeting produced no new agreements, U.S. officials said they sense military relations may be stabilizing after a rocky few months, highlighted by a near-collision between Chinese and American destroyers in the South China Sea.

China has also been angered by closer U.S. relations with Taiwan, including arms sales. China claims the self-governing island as its own territory and Wu said the Chinese military’s “determination to safeguard national sovereignty and development interests is rock solid.”

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