China, Australia defence officials hold first formal meeting since 2019
BEIJING, March 22 (Reuters) - Chinese defence officials met their Australian counterparts in Canberra on Wednesday, China's Ministry of National Defense said, in their first formal meeting since 2019.
The talks were helpful in developing a stable relationship between their militaries, the Chinese defence ministry said, and further enhanced mutual understanding.
Australia's defence department confirmed the meeting, adding that dialogue was conducted "in a professional atmosphere with both sides exchanging views on regional security issues".
The talks come after Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang said that the two countries have restarted institutional dialogue and consultation in multiple areas, in a meeting with his Australian counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 meeting earlier this month.
Ties between the two countries deteriorated in recent years, with China imposing sanctions on Australian exports after Canberra called for an international inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
They are now making progress towards the resumption of Australian timber exports to China in the latest sign of the normalisation of trade.
But as they work to improve ties, the alliance of the United States, Australia and Britain has made moves to counter China's ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.
Last week, the AUKUS alliance unveiled details of a plan to provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines from the early 2030s.
China's foreign ministry criticised the deal, saying that the AUKUS has disregarded concerns of the international community and "gone further down a dangerous road".
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