(AP) — Defense officials from China and the U.S. have held two days of talks in a small sign of progress amid a continuing sharp downturn in relations. The video conference held Tuesday and Wednesday was led by Maj. Gen. Huang Xueping, deputy direct of the People’s Liberation Army’s Office for International Military Cooperation, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Michael Chase. The Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson says they exchanged in-depth views on relations and issues of common concern. However, he blamed continuous provocation and containment of China by the U.S. for the considerable difficulties and challenges between the two militaries. Relations are strained over trade, technology, human rights and Chinese military activities in the South China Sea.