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Chinese Defense Minister Visits United States: Gen. Liang Guanglie is making the first visit of a Chinese defense minister to the United States in nine years. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hosted Liang at the Pentagon on May 7. The two finished a "very productive" meeting, said Panetta during a joint media availability. He expressed his commitment to "achieving and maintaining a healthy, stable, reliable, and continuous mil-to-mil relationship with China." In translated remarks, Liang said the two sides had an "in-depth" and "candid discussion" on the two countries' interests and the international security situation. They reached agreements reaffirming: the bilateral military-to-military relationship as an essential component of US-China relations, and the need for continuous strategic communication to enhance mutual trust, he said. The two nations' militaries should continue to strengthen cooperation in areas such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and medical exchange, said Liang. Panetta said Liang invited him to China and he will be visiting China "within the next few months." (Panetta-Liang transcript)