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US, China to Work to Avoid Future Naval Disputes


The United States and China say they have agreed to work hard to avoid incidents such as the naval dispute that has raised tensions between the two countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed the dispute during wide-ranging talks Wednesday in Washington.

Clinton says the United States and China must make sure such incidents do not have unforeseen consequences.

The latest dispute stems from a standoff Sunday involving a U.S. Navy surveillance ship in the South China Sea.

The United States says Chinese vessels harassed the USNS Impeccable, noting it was using sonar equipment designed to monitor submarines. Washington says China violated international law by taking aggressive action against the ship in international waters.

Chinese naval officials say the Impeccable was on a spying mission. Beijing also says the ship conducted activities in China's so-called Exclusive Economic Zone without China's permission.

Yang, who is in Washington this week for meetings with U.S. officials, is due to meet Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Mr. Obama looks forward to discussing issues of mutual concern, including the global economic crisis and the naval dispute between the two countries. Gibbs says President Obama will continue to stress the U.S. position on the naval controversy.

Yang's visit to Washington is also aimed at laying the groundwork for a meeting between Mr. Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao at next month's G-20 summit.

On Tuesday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said the naval dispute was the "most serious" incident between the United States and China since China detained a U.S. spy plane and its crew in 2001.

U.S. diplomats say American naval ships will continue to operate in international waters.

China's official Xinhua news agency says the United States should respect China's legal interests and security concerns - a reference to Sunday's standoff.

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