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Bush thanks China's defense chief for efforts on N. Korea

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld enters the Pentagon with Cao on Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld enters the Pentagon with Cao on Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has thanked Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan for Beijing's efforts to resolve the North Korea nuclear crisis.

Bush met Cao when he stopped by a White House meeting between the Chinese defense minister and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday.

A White House official said Cao met for about 30 minutes with Rice, and Bush stopped by for about five minutes.

U.S. and Chinese military relations have been cool since 2001, when a U.S. reconnaissance plane made an emergency landing in China after a collision with a Chinese fighter jet.

But the Bush administration has been working to warm the relationship with Beijing and touts China's agreement to host six-way talks with North Korea last August as key to their new plan to use a multilateral approach to get the Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

An administration official said Bush used his brief talk with Cao to emphasize how important he believes the Chinese have been and will be in the future regarding North Korea.

Currently, a Chinese delegation -- headed by No. 2 leader Wu Bangguo -- is in North Korea and is expected to push Pyongyang to agree to more multi-party talks to resolve the issue. (Full story)

Cao's White House visit is part of a series of Washington meetings over the last few days with U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the meeting with Powell was "a very broad-ranging discussion of relations between the two countries" that addressed "the desire of both presidents to move forward."

"The secretary expressed his strong support for the progress that's been made in the relationship and the hope that we could see even more progress, including on the military-to-military relationships," Boucher said.

Powell also congratulated Cao on the successful Chinese space launch earlier this month, Boucher said.

A senior State Department official said Powell and Cao discussed Taiwan, and Cao reiterated that China wanted the United States to adhere to the "one-China" policy, spelled out in three communiqués between the two sides on the issue.

Bush had a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao while in Bangkok for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit earlier this month.

-- CNN's State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report


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