Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Wednesday met visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, in the first public meeting with a visiting foreign dignitary since his mysterious disappearance early this month that sparked rumours about his health.
Xi, 59, is widely regarded as the successor to President Hu Jintao in the 18th Congress of the ruling Communist Party to be held in the next few weeks.
The sudden cancellation of his scheduled meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] early this month sparked off speculation that he was seriously ill ahead of the power transfer.
He reappeared in public briefly Saturday during a visit to a Chinese university. Panetta is the first visiting foreign dignitary call on Xi after his illness.
During the meeting Xi, who is also Vice Chairman of the powerful Military Commission reviewed both political and military ties between the two countries.
Panetta's visit will help to further advance the relationship between the two militaries as well as the two nations, state-run Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
For his part, Panetta said he appreciates Xi's all-round support to encourage the military-to-military relationship.