updated 3/10/2006 2:59:46 PM ET 2006-03-10T19:59:46

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States must join together with allies Japan and Australia to ensure that China’s military buildup does not exceed certain limits.

“We need to engage the Chinese in dialogue about security in the region,” Rice said, acknowledging that the process may be difficult because of long-standing historical differences.

Rice commented in an interview on Thursday before heading out on a trip that will include stops in Indonesia and Australia next week. The State Department made available a text of her interview on Friday, hours after her departure for Chile.

Her visit to Australia will include a trilateral security discussion in which Japan will also take part.

The three countries must “make sure that we’re looking at a Chinese military buildup that is not outsized for China’s regional ambitions and interests,” Rice said.

She said the United States and its allies, along with other nations of the region, have a duty to produce conditions in which a rising China “will be a positive force in international politics and not a negative force.”

As Rice sees it, China’s intentions are “concerning,” particularly for countries which have attempted to promote peace in the Asia-Pacific region. Among such countries, she said, are the United States, Japan and Australia.

Her allusion to long-standing historical issues was the continuing mistrust in much of the regional toward Japan for its hostile actions toward neighbors six decades ago.

Rice said the strategic relationships with Japan and Australia are among the most important that the United States has.

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