WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James Mattis and his Chinese counterpart will resume efforts to strengthen their military-to-military relationship with a dinner at historic Mount Vernon.
Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who Mattis saw last month in Singapore, will spend two days in Washington. His visit is part of a larger U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue that will include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Central Commission of the Communist Party of China Yang Jiechi.
Mattis and Wei, along with others, will have dinner Thursday at Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington who, among other things, was the first general of the armies for the United States. Washington and Gen. John Pershing were the only two such officers to have that title.
The four officials are to meet Friday morning. Following a press conference at the State Department, Wei will join Mattis for private meetings at the Pentagon.
The two men met in Beijing during Mattis’ trip to Asia in June. It was during that visit that Mattis first suggested that Wei visit Washington and Wei accepted the invitation.
They were scheduled to meet again in October, before Mattis visited Singapore, but that meeting was scratched because of inflamed tensions between the two nations on trade and U.S.-China sparing in the South China Sea.
However, then China offered up a meeting in Singapore, where both men were attending the Association of Southeast Nations conference. The meeting took place, went well beyond the scheduled 60 minutes, and Mattis reaffirmed the invitation, he told reporters traveling with him.