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China and US agree to avoid military clashes

CHINESE Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and United States President Barack Obama have agreed to work together to prevent further military confrontations at sea.

And at a meeting in the White House on Thursday, they also called for urgent steps to revive the world economy.

"The two agreed that China and the US must work closely and urgently, as two of the world's leading economies, to stabilize the global economy by stimulating demand at home and abroad, and get credit markets flowing," the White House said in a statement after the two sides met in Washington.

Tensions between the United States and China have risen over an incident in the South China Sea in which five Chinese ships jostled with a US Navy surveillance vessel off Hainan Island last Sunday.

China's Defense Ministry said the USNS Impeccable was operating illegally inside China's exclusive economic zone when it was challenged by three Chinese ships and two Chinese-flagged trawlers.

US Defense Department officials said the USNS Impeccable was on a mission to seek out so-called threats such as submarines and was towing a sonar apparatus that scans and listens for subs, mines and torpedoes.

The US Navy on Wednesday sent a destroyer armed with missiles and torpedoes to escort the USNS Impeccable, a US defense official said on Thursday.

After meeting on Wednesday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Yang visited the White House on Thursday to meet Obama and National Security Adviser General James Jones.

During Obama's 45-minute meeting with Yang and Jones, the US president "stressed the importance of raising the level and frequency of the US-China military-to-military dialogue in order to avoid future incidents," the White House said.

On the international financial crisis, the two agreed that China and the US must work together to stabilize the global economy by stimulating demand at home and abroad, and get the credit markets flowing.

Obama also said the US would continue to work with China and other partners in the Six-Party process to eliminate the nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, according to the White House.

The Chinese foreign minister is on a five-day visit in the US to make preparations for a meeting between President Hu Jintao and Obama at the G-20 summit in London early next month.


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