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Top Chinese General Visits Washington


A top Chinese military leader is in Washington for meetings with U.S. officials that are being viewed as a sign of widening military contacts between China and the United States.

General Guo Boxiong, who serves as ranking vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, is the highest-ranking Chinese military officer to visit the Pentagon.

A Pentagon spokesman had no details about the general's meeting with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But he emphasized that it affirms a consensus reached in recent high-level meetings, that both countries should have more military-to-military exchanges and contacts. Rumsfeld visited Beijing last October.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said General Guo is also meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "They are going to have a general discussion about the region, about bilateral issues, as well as global issues," he said.

The spokesman said the crisis over North Korea's nuclear program will definitely be discussed. He added that the U.S. government is also concerned about what he described as greater transparency in China's miltary activities and policies. "I think more transparency in what exactly the Chinese program is, and their intentions, I think would be a welcome step," said McCormack. "Not only welcome by the United States, but by the United States and the region. So, that is part of our ongoing dialogue with the Chinese."

Beijing's communist leadership has announced plans to boost defense spending to $35 billion, an increase of nearly 15 percent. The Pentagon and other military analysts outside China say that figure may be three times higher.