Obama to meet Chinese FM, to discuss South China Sea tensions

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Washington, Mar.12 (ANI): President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and discuss the latest confrontation between American and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, the White House said on Wednesday. Fox News report said the announcement came just after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Wednesday with Jiechi in a bid to ease tensions over the confrontation that occurred Sunday when Chinese vessels reportedly harassed a U.S. Navy mapping ship in international waters.

While neither side yielding in their conflicting version of events, Clinton said she and Jiechi agreed that similar episodes should be avoided in the future.

Clinton said the two sides agreed to work "to ensure that such incidents do not happen again."

Clinton told reporters that Yang's visit to the State Department was a "very positive" development, and she looked forward to continuing the discussions that she has had with Yang during her well-received trip to Beijing last month.

Yang said, "We are here to get prepared for our two heads of state meeting in London and to work together to push our relationship forward," referring to a crucial early April meeting in London between Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.

Beijing has long complained about U.S. surveillance operations around China's borders.

Without better communications between the two militaries as they operate in the South China Sea, the possibility for future conflict will remain.

Jonathan Pollack, a professor of Asian studies at the U.S. Naval War College, suggested that without stronger military-to-military links, the potential for "something ugly" happening "should not be minimized."

On Wednesday, the China's Foreign Ministry in Beijing reiterated that the U.S. claims are "gravely in contravention of the facts and unacceptable to China."

U.S. defense officials said Tuesday that the Navy ship was looking for threats such as submarines, presumably Chinese.

U.S. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told lawmakers Tuesday that the incident was the most serious episode between the two nations since 2001, when China forced the landing of a U.S. spy plane and seized the crew. (ANI)

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