WASHINGTON, May 2: The South Asian situation was among subjects covered in talks here between Chinese Vice-President Hu Jintao and United States officials.

Mr Hu, who is tipped to become China’s next leader and has been given unusual attention since he arrived here earlier this week, has had meetings with President George W. Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney and the foreign and defence secretaries.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told his regular briefing on Wednesday afternoon that Mr Hu and Secretary Colin Powell had met for a working dinner on Tuesday night and agreed to continue “to advance in our cooperation against terrorism. There was a very good discussion of the Middle East, South Asia...of how to promote stability on the Korean Peninsula, including stressing the importance of North-South dialogue”.

Asked whether Kashmir was discussed, Mr Boucher said the two sides talked about the “tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and the need and the desire of both our countries to play a positive role in helping the parties defuse those tensions”.

This would bear out earlier reports and comments that China and the US had been working closely since Pakistan and India moved troops to the border following acrimony generated by a militant attack on the Indian parliament.

After Mr Hu’s meeting with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, it was announced that China and the US had agreed to restore military cooperation and exchanges frozen since the dispute last year over an American spy plane forced down by Chinese fighters on their territory.

China’s concerns about Taiwan were conveyed both at the meeting with President Bush and with Secretary Powell. The US side stressed America’s “continuing commitment” to the One-China policy.

Mr Hu is believed to have conveyed China’s concerns about Beijing’s perception that the Bush administration has moved closer to an alliance with Taiwan.

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