US Defense Secretary offers to work with Chinese Military

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates struck a conciliatory tone toward Beijing on Saturday, saying the United States and China had the opportunity to “build trust over time.”

“I believe there is reason to be optimistic about the U.S.-China relationship,” Mr. Gates said at an annual gathering here of defense ministers from the Pacific region.

Mr. Gates briefly raised concerns that China’s actual defense spending appeared to far outpace its publicly stated military budget. But the speech and comments by Pentagon officials in Singapore make it clear that the Pentagon — which has long taken a hawkish view toward China’s intentions — is hoping to smooth the relationship between the powers.

The tone of Mr. Gates’s speech, which focused on America’s enduring commitment to its Asian allies, is yet another example of what seems a studied attempt by Mr. Gates to present himself in sharp contrast to Mr. Rumsfeld, whose trips abroad often provoked controversy and criticism from America’s allies.

At a February conference in Munich, Mr. Gates took a jab at Mr. Rumsfeld’s famous distinction between “old” and “new” Europe, saying that such characterizations “belong in the past.”

On Saturday, he also made it clear he believed that the best way to improve America’s relations with China was for the two powers to have a constant dialogue — keeping the antagonism to a minimum. During a question and answer session after the speech, Mr. Gates said that America and China could follow the example of the waning years of the cold war, when negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union brought the countries closer.
In full

This Defense Secretary seems to be an intelligent, sensible and capable man, whats the general opinion of him in the States?
My God, a politician attempting to apply the lessons of the past?

Would never have happened in the old days...

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