updated 5/23/2007 1:06:20 PM ET 2007-05-23T17:06:20

Daily passenger flights between the United States and China will more than double by 2012 and air cargo companies will have virtually unlimited access to China as part of an aviation agreement announced Wednesday.

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"Piece by piece, we are making it easier, cheaper, and more convenient to fly people and ship goods between our two countries," Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said.

The accord was announced during high-level talks between the United States and China, known as the strategic economic dialogue, led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and China's Vice Premier Wu Yi.

Under the pact, U.S. carriers will be able to operate 23 daily roundtrip flights by 2012, up from 10 currently. The agreement will also allow the United States to designate three additional airlines to fly to China. UAL Corp.'s United Airlines won a new route that was awarded earlier this year.

American Airlines, which bid unsuccessfully last year for a Dallas-Beijing route, has said it plans to bid in the future for new flights to China. Officials at Delta Air Lines Inc. say the Atlanta-based carrier is also eager to get a foothold in China.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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