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Over kung pao chicken and dumplings, Hagel meets PLA counterparts

Published on Apr 9, 2014 7:30 PM
 
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel eats with students at the mess hall of the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy during a tour in Changping District of Beijing on April 9, 2014. Over kung pao chicken and dumplings, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel recalled his days as an infantryman in Vietnam on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, with young Chinese soldiers at a People's Liberation Army (PLA) training academy. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Over kung pao chicken and dumplings, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel recalled his days as an infantryman in Vietnam on Wednesday with young Chinese soldiers at a People's Liberation Army (PLA) training academy.

"Many, many years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a sergeant in the army," joked the visiting US Defence Secretary before sitting down to lunch at a canteen with soldiers training to become non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the PLA.

The Changping school laid out the red carpet for Mr Hagel, who did his NCO training in 1968 after braving combat in the jungles of the Mekong Delta - and still carries shrapnel in his chest as a result.

The atmosphere was friendly and conversation light, in stark contrast to the rough reception he received on Tuesday from top Chinese officials and a roomful of PLA colonels who peppered him with tough questions.

 
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