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Pentagon chief Esper hopes to visit China this year ‘to discuss issues of mutual interest’

Pentagon chief Esper hopes to visit China this year ‘to discuss issues of mutual interest’

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday he hopes to visit China by the end of the year to discuss areas of mutual interest. The statement came even as the Pentagon chief condemned Beijing’s maritime activity in the South China Sea, Reuters reports.

“Before the year is out, I hope to visit the PRC for the first time as secretary,” Esper said, using an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

The trip would help “enhance cooperation in areas of common interest, establish the systems necessary for crisis communications and reinforce our intentions to openly compete in the international system,” Esper added.

The defense secretary also said that he had not given any orders to withdraw US troops from South Korea.