U.S. clears up missile defense confusion with China

The U.S. took part of the first day of strategic and economic dialogue with China to explain the reasoning behind bolstering missile defenses in Alaska, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

A senior administration official made the remarks during a special press briefing with four administration officials. U.S. and Chinese representatives met for talks on multiple issues, including the commitment of both sides to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. One official said the U.S. needed to explain some aspects of the recent announcement that the U.S. would add interceptor missiles in Alaska.

"In terms of missile defense, I think it's the same sort of issue where we are trying to explain to the Chinese about some things that, frankly, have concerned them about our announcement a little earlier," a senior administration official said. "I think (Defense) Secretary (Chuck) Hagel announced the increase of our ground-based missiles in Alaska. And so this was an opportunity to provide some context, to note that this announcement was much more about the North Korean threat, and that it would be irresponsible not to take actions to protect the United States."

The official said the U.S. and China also discussed the Nuclear Posture Review and added more texture to previous statements made by President Barack Obama.

The administration official said he thought the Chinese appreciated the discussion of nuclear and missile defense.

"And so I think that we took the opportunity to discuss two issues that have been discussed in security circles in China," the official said. "That was an excellent discussion, really. I think the Chinese said that they appreciated discussion. They had their own views, and it was very candid, and they were blunt with us, and we were with them as well, but I think that the overall mood was appreciative on their part that we took the time to try to put this into context and to explain the motivations."