Top U.S. and China diplomats to hold in-person talks

Top U.S. and China diplomats to hold in-person talks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with top Chinese officials on March 18 in Alaska, the White House said, the first high-level in-person contact between the two sparring countries under the Biden administration.

The meeting, taking place on Blinken’s return from his first overseas trip to key U.S. allies Japan and South Korea, will come amid what is shaping up to be a major U.S. diplomatic push to solidify alliances in Asia and Europe to counter China.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan will join the meeting in Anchorage with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councillor Wang Yi, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the administration would approach its relations with China “in lockstep” with its partners.

"It was important to us that this administration’s first meeting with Chinese officials be held on American soil, and occur after we have met and consulted closely with partners and allies in both Asia and Europe," Psaki told a news briefing.

She said the meeting would be "an opportunity to address a wide range of issues, including ones where we have deep disagreements."

President Joe Biden’s administration has committed to reviewing elements of U.S. policies toward China, as the world’s two largest economies navigate frosty relations that sank to their lowest depths in decades during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, held their first phone call as leaders last month and appeared at odds on most issues, even as Xi warned that confrontation would be a “disaster” for both nations.

The talks will follow the visit by Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Japan and South Korea next week, as well as an online summit on Friday between Biden and the leaders of Japan, India and Australia.

That will be the first leader-level meeting of the four-country group, known as the Quad, seen as part of U.S. efforts to boost its diplomacy in Asia to balance China’s growing military and economic power, Reuters reported.

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