PLA Garrison commanders met the United States' most powerful officer in Asia after he called for greater contacts between their forces. Admiral Joseph Prueher's arrival in Hong Kong ended a week of unprecedented co-operation between the US Navy, Coastguard and PLA in a search and rescue exercise and a display of American military might in the harbour. The Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Command, arriving just as the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson departed, held discussions with deputy commander Major-General Zhou Borong and political commissar Major-General Xiong Ziren. Commander in Chief Lieutenant-General Liu Zhenwu did not participate as he was on leave, said a PLA spokesman. Admiral Prueher, the most senior US officer to meet the PLA in Hong Kong, praised the PLA's role in the 'smooth' transition. Links between the two nations' militaries had grown from the 'zero relationship' at the time of the Taiwan Straits crisis in March 1996, he said. 'We have spent the time trying to gain a dialogue with the PLA to what I would describe as building foundations for a useful relationship with Chinese for the long haul,' Admiral Prueher said in a speech to the Asia Society. The US had planned a 'fairly robust' programme of co-operation and exchanges with the PLA next year, he said. While senior officers had enjoyed 'rewarding' discussions, Beijing agreed open exchanges for young officers so they could 'have a dialogue for the future'. Admiral Prueher revealed he believed a consensus had been reached in American officials' talks with Beijing and Taipei to cool off over the future of Taiwan. 'All of us agree that bringing the China-Taiwan situation to some sort of confrontation is a no-win proposition. 'It is a proposition that needs to be put off to let the situation work out over time,' he said.