By DoD News
By Lisa Ferdinando
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to discuss North Korea and a wide range of other strategic issues with Chinese officials at the first iteration of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, a senior Defense Department official told reporters.
The discussion, to be held Wednesday at the State Department and hosted by Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is significant, said David F. Helvey, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs.
The dialogue is bringing together diplomatic and defense leaders from the United States and China to “focus on those issues that are most critical in the U.S.-China relationship, the region and beyond,” Helvey said at a Foreign Press Center briefing at the National Press Building here.
“This discussion elevates the level of dialogue with the Chinese in a way that in our view will enable in-depth consideration in areas of cooperation,” he said.
Managing and Narrowing Differences
In addition, it will allow for exchanges on “ways to manage and narrow the differences between the United States and China on a range of strategic issues that affect both the diplomatic and the defense spheres,” he explained.
Discussions are expected to focus on North Korea, Helvey said. As Mattis has outlined, the “most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region is North Korea,” he added.
“The United States and China have a shared interest in the denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” he said. “Given China’s unique influence, we seek to deepen our cooperation to realize this outcome, which is in the best interest of peace and security in the region and the world.”
Helvey said U.S.-China defense relations are an important aspect of a constructive and results-oriented bilateral relationship.
“Secretary Mattis has stated his desire to strengthen and improve the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship to ensure that it remains a stabilizing element and a supporting element in the overall bilateral U.S.-China relationship,” he said.
Discussions also are expected to include maritime security, defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and exploring practical ways to improve communication to increase understanding and reduce risk, including through additional confidence-building measures, Helvey told reporters.