March 31, 2009 / 2:33 AM / 11 years ago

China, Taiwan military to meet in U.S.: report

BEIJING (Reuters) - Senior Chinese and Taiwanese military officers will meet for the first time since the end of a civil war in 1949 at a forum in Hawaii this summer, state media said on Tuesday, in a further sign of improving ties between the political rivals.

Officials from both sides will attend August’s Transnational Security Cooperation forum organized by the U.S. Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, an institute under the U.S. Department of Defense, the official China Daily said.

The newspaper said senior military officials in Beijing had confirmed that military personnel from the two sides would meet at the forum.

“Another military source in Beijing also suggested that some cross-Straits military exchanges may take place before August, but declined to reveal more details as yet,” the report added.

A Taiwan defense spokesman said on Monday that military officials may meet in August.

China has claimed Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to Taiwan. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

Since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office last May, the China-friendly leader has eased tension with Beijing through trade and tourism deals, although military distrust lingers.

Taiwan estimates China still has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island, and is continuing to expand its arsenal despite a warming of relations.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Editing by Dean Yates

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