BEIJING, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army will be increasing its formal cooperation with the huge Chinese army in the coming months, a senior U.S. general said Saturday.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno flew to China Friday to discuss areas of cooperation with the People's Liberation Army on matters such as international peacekeeping and humanitarian relief.
Odierno said the overall goal of the visit was a closer relations overall. "It really is about us focusing on a long-term relationship and the importance of us conducting exchanges, conducting institutional visits," he said.
Odierno sat down with his counterparts in Beijing Friday and flew from Beijing to northern China Saturday for meetings with other senior military officials.
The trip comes at a time when China has been expanding its influence in the South China Sea, causing friction with longtime U.S. allies Japan and South Korea. At the same time, U.S. officials contend the working relationship between the Chinese and American militaries is less close than it was between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War, the New York Times said.
Odierno said expanding cooperation would assist in "managing differences constructively."