| ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Sept 17
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Sept 17 U.S.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's trip to China has been extended
by a day and will include meetings with Vice President Xi
Jinping, U.S. defense officials said on Monday.
The visit with Xi, China's leader-in-waiting who cancelled a
recent scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, was confirmed only in the last couple of days after he
re-emerged from having been out of the public spotlight amid
Panetta is making the three-day trip to China at the
invitation of Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, who visited the
Pentagon earlier this year as well as military installations in
other parts of the country.
The visit is part of U.S. and Chinese efforts to promote
closer military relations and greater transparency between the
As part of that effort, Panetta will become the first U.S.
defense secretary to visit the home of the Chinese navy's North
Sea fleet at Qingdao where he will tour warships and meet with
cadets and the commander of the fleet, Vice Admiral Tian Zhong.
Xi is due to take over as president in March next year. He
has a military role as vice chairman of the Central Military
Commission and met with Panetta at the Pentagon earlier this
Panetta will meet Xi on Wednesday.
Panetta said in Tokyo on Monday the United States would
stand by its security treaty obligations to Japan but not take
sides in a protracted row with China over disputed islands and
urged calm and restraint on both sides.
"It is in everybody's interest ... for Japan and China to
maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further
escalation," he told reporters.