(Bloomberg) -- China’s ambassador to Australia has dismissed concerns over a war between the two countries as unrealistic, as defense officials from both governments met for talks in Canberra in the latest sign of a diplomatic thaw.

Ambassador Xiao Qian wrote an opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age newspapers on Thursday, in which he criticized the view that China was a threat to Australia.

“A war between China and Australia is neither realistic nor at all consistent with our national interests and diplomatic philosophy,” he said. “What Australia needs is opportunities and partners, not threats and imaginary enemies.”

Xiao’s opinion piece comes as Australian and Chinese defense officials met for the first time since 2019 in Canberra on Wednesday. The Australian Department of Defence said the Australia-China Defence Coordination Dialogue was held over half a day and both sides had exchanged “views on regional security issues” in a professional manner.

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The meeting of defense officials appeared to confirm that the recent warming in diplomatic ties between Canberra and Beijing has not been derailed despite the announcement of Australia’s pathway to owning nuclear submarines under the Aukus agreement. China has long been a vocal opponent of the Aukus plan, taking its concerns all the way to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Relations between Australia and China have noticeably improved following the election of the center-left Labor government in May 2022.

Trade sanctions placed on Australian exports in 2020 following calls by then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison for an international Covid-19 investigation have been eased, and meetings have taken place between several high-level government officials.

Trade Minister Don Farrell is expected to head to Beijing next month to discuss further relaxation of restrictions on Australian exports, including lobsters and wine.

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