US in touch with Beijing about arranging military communication -Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has been coordinating with Beijing to arrange military-to-military talks, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, though it did not have any announcements on any talks.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed last month at a closely watched California summit to resume such contacts, which were severed after then-House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited self-ruled Taiwan in August 2022. China claims sovereignty over democratically governed Taiwan.

“We have been working closely with our defense attache office and our policy team has been in active coordination with Beijing in order to arrange communication,” Pentagon spokesperson Major General Patrick Ryder told a press conference.

“But again nothing to announce at this time,” he added, in terms of any specific engagements.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a Wall Street Journal event on Tuesday that he believed progress on military-to-military communication was on track since the Biden-Xi summit only took place a few weeks ago.

“I actually don’t think of it as a delay. I think this is just the normal implementation of a summit outcome and it’s continuing as both sides expected it would so I see no issue there,” Sullivan said.

“We believe that the real question is not: ‘Will it get started? We’re confident in that. The real question is: Can it be sustained through any ups and downs that may come in the future,” Sullivan added.

The Biden administration has said that it wants communications throughout the two countries’ militaries, including both senior leaders and commanders in specific geographic areas.

Relations between the two countries grew frosty after Biden ordered the shooting down in February of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States.

But top Biden administration officials have since visited Beijing and met with their counterparts to rebuild communications and trust.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)