HONOLULU, Hawaii - The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific is hosting Japan's most senior uniformed officer for talks on regional security. Reports say talks include how to respond to any contingency over islands that both China and Japan claim as their own.
Adm. Samuel Locklear from U.S. Pacific Command and Japan Self Defence Forces' joint chief, Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, are meeting in Hawaii Thursday and Friday.
The meetings are a regularly scheduled consultation between the two allies, Staff Sgt. Carl Hudson, a Pacific Command spokesman, said in an email.
Kyodo News reported Locklear and Iwasaki were to discuss joint operation plans for any contingency involving the islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Kyodo said Locklear and Iwasaki were expected to agree to accelerate the drafting of the plans.
Asked whether Locklear and Iwasaki would discuss such plans, Hudson said the U.S. doesn't take sides in territorial disputes and encourages all parties to find a peaceful resolution.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that China was "seriously concerned" about Japanese media reports saying Japan and the U.S. were updating their military defence plans involving the islands.
"Diaoyu is an inherent part of Chinese territory," Hong said.
The decades-long dispute over the islands reignited in September, when the Japanese government purchased three of the islands from their private owners.
The purchase prompted anti-Japanese protests in China. Beijing has regularly sent ships to confront the Japanese coast guard in the area.
Associated Press writers Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed.
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