US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Hanoi, the Financial Times reported. Gates described the meeting as "very short but also very candid and constructive," and accepted an invitation by Liang to visit China later this year. Military-to-military relations deteriorated rapidly following US arms sales to Taiwan earlier this year, and its effects began to spill over into the diplomatic realm. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Vietnam during the summer that territorial disputes in the South China Sea were a national interest of the US, to the fury of Chinese diplomats in the region. On Monday, Gates called for multilateral institutions to deal with regional security issues, with the backing of the US.
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