Pentagon chief to meet China's leader-in-waiting
ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AFP) - United States (US) Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is due to meet China's leader-in-waiting, Vice-President Xi Jinping, during a visit to Beijing this week, officials said on Monday.
Mr Xi appeared in public for the first time in two weeks on Saturday after dropping from public view this month, setting off intense speculation about his health and political future.
Mr Panetta was scheduled to hold talks with Mr Xi on Wednesday, the second day of a three-day visit to China, military officials, who spoke condition of anonymity, told reporters travelling with the Pentagon chief.
US officials see the meeting as an encouraging sign and say efforts to build a security dialogue with China are making steady, incremental progress after years of on-again-off-again relations with Beijing's military leaders.