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US Seventh Fleet warship to visit China(02/12/04)

    BEIJING, Feb. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Blue Ridge, the command ship of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet is to visit east China's Shanghai porton Feb. 24-28, said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue here Thursday.

    Zhang said at a regular press conference that the two sides aremaking preparations for the visit.

    Military contacts between China and the United States will be more diversified and cover more spheres in 2004, Zhang said, adding that there will be high-level visits, contacts between academies, mechanical contacts and exchange of visits of warships as well.

    "We are happy with the constant development of military and state relations between our two countries," she said.

    The spokeswoman also briefed on the sixth round of Sino-US consultations on defense at the vice-ministerial level held on Tuesday in Beijing, saying both sides considered the consultations"positive and constructive."

    The defense consultations signal the normalization of military exchanges between the two nations, and serve as an effective mechanism for maintaining the development of their military ties, Zhang said, adding that the sixth round of consultations indicatedthat the ties were being normalized.

    During their consultations, the two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues, the Taiwan issue and the KoreanPeninsula nuclear problem. They also reviewed the growth of their military ties since the fifth defense consultations, said Zhang.

    Annual consultations between the defense departments of the twocountries began in 1997. Previous consultations have been held in Washington and Beijing alternately. The fifth consultations were held in December 2002 in Washington.

    Zhang said the two sides also notified each other of their military construction during the consultations.

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