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May 29, 2017

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US general calls for China, Japan dialogue

BEIJING --- U.S. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno on Saturday said Beijing and Tokyo must enhance communication to avoid "miscalculations" amid a simmering territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

Odierno, a four star general, spoke during a visit to China where he has held talks with military officials aimed at establishing a formal high-level dialogue between the U.S. and Chinese armies in the coming months.

"We reinforced the importance of dialogue and discussion between the Japanese and the Chinese regarding this issue," Odierno told reporters. "We have to be careful and ensure that there are no miscalculations along the way."

Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a bitter territorial row over Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu.

Tensions between the two nations dramatically intensified after Japan nationalized some of the islands in September 2012, with ships and aircraft from both countries regularly patrolling waters around the contested territory.

The dispute has also on occasion come perilously close to boiling over into armed clashes.

Last February, Japan accused a Chinese frigate of directing a weapon-targeting radar at a Japanese warship in the East China Sea.

"We do have a treaty with Japan, a defense treaty, but the most important piece is that we in fact emphasize the importance of this continued dialogue to solve this problem," Odierno said.

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