U.S., China Agree to Improve Military Ties

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in China on Monday mending military ties for the new year.

Gates spent the morning in talks with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie. The two agreed to set up a working group to regularly discuss strategic military issues between the two super-powers.

Gates said the two nations agreed that military ties should be "solid, consistent and not subject to shifting political winds." He also said he is sure that China's People's Liberation Army is behind the idea "as much as I am."

The news comes after Beijing cut off defense ties with Washington, D.C. last year over arms sales to Taiwan and U.S. naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea.

"On that, China's position has been clear and consistent," Liang said. "We are against it."

The two nations also agreed to wider cooperation in noncombat areas including counterterrorism and counter-piracy operations.

Gates four-day trip to Beijing includes a meeting with top political and military leadership and a visit to a Chinese nuclear weapons base.

The governments hope to smooth some of the friction before Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Washington next week

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