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Milley defends calls to Chinese as effort to avoid conflict

Mark Milley
Posted at 4:37 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 16:37:35-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer is defending his phone calls to his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency as an effort to avoid misunderstandings and conflict.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered his explanation Wednesday in a written statement.

"His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability," Milley’s spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said in a statement. "All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated, and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.

The Milley phone calls were described in excerpts from the forthcoming book "Peril" by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

The book says Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People's Liberation Army that he would warn his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack.

According to the Associated Press, some in Congress have asked President Joe Biden to fire him for overstepping, but when asked by a reporter whether or not Milley did the right thing, Biden responded that has "great confidence in Gen. Milley."