A senior US Defence Department official is expected to visit Beijing this month to meet his counterparts in the People's Liberation Army, a report says. The China News Service quoted an unnamed Pentagon official as saying the visit by Richard Lawless, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia, was part of a joint effort to increase mutual trust and prevent miscalculations. It is part of a continued thawing of relations between the two militaries, which hit a low point in April 2001 when a US spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet off the coast of Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot. After that incident, US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld cancelled all exchanges with the PLA. Contact resumed after a series of meetings between US President George W. Bush and then-president Jiang Zemin , and, more recently, with President Hu Jintao . In July, US Pacific Commander Admiral Thomas Fargo met General Liang Guanglie , chief of general staff of the PLA, and his deputy, General Xiong Guangkai . Meanwhile, the PLA has announced another reshuffle of top commanders, the Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po reported. The report said deputy political department commissar Lieutenant-General Sun Zhongtong had been appointed director of the discipline inspection department. US administration sources told Kyodo on Tuesday that Mr Lawless will retain his post in the new Bush administration. He is also deputy US delegation chief for the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme. US ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill is set to replace James Kelly as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and as top negotiator for the six-party talks.