US calls for calm over China islands row

Beijing, Jan 11 (IANS) Amid flaring tensions between China and Japan over the controversial Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, a top US State Department official said America wants cooler heads to prevail.

"We want both countries to recognise that, literally, northeast Asia is too important to the global economy," the China Daily quoted Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, as saying.

"We cannot afford to have continuing tension degrade relations between the two most important countries in Asia - Japan and China, not only for our security, but our economic prosperity going forward," Campbell said in Washington during a forum on Asia.

Campbell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a closed-door meeting at the State Department Thursday with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai.

He, along with White House and Defense Department officials, will leave for Tokyo next week to consult with Japanese officials over the islands issue.

Campbell said a quiet, behind-the-scenes approach was likely to prove more effective than one that was more public.

He said Washington was committed to building a strong, multifaceted and comprehensive partnership with China.

Describing it as a major goal for US foreign policy, Campbell said it was one that requires hard work to achieve.

"We do this because the world expects the US and China to get along, that we work to overcome our differences and work intensively to understand each other and appreciate each other's perspectives," he said.

The US encourages all countries in Asia to have good relations with China.

"We believe it's in their best interest and it's in our best interest. They're not the only ones that want good relationships with China - we do as well.

"No country needs to choose between the US and China, or India or Japan," the official added.

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