ZURICH / WASHINGTON, Oct.6 (Reuters) – The United States and China have agreed in principle that their presidents will hold a virtual meeting before the end of the year, a senior US administration official said on Wednesday. ‘outcome of high-level talks aimed at improving communication between the two countries.
The closed-door meeting at an airport hotel in the Swiss city of Zurich between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi was their first face-to-face meeting since an unusually public and harsh broadcast of grievances in Alaska in March. .
U.S. officials had suggested the meeting followed President Joe Biden’s September 9 appeal with Chinese President Xi Jinping, before which the world’s two largest economies appeared to be at a dead end.
The White House said Sullivan raised concerns about controversial issues such as China’s actions in the South China Sea, as well as human rights and Beijing’s positions on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan.
At the end of the day, however, Beijing and Washington said the talks, which lasted six hours, were constructive and frank. The US side said the tone was very different from that of Alaska.
“We have drawn from today’s conversation an agreement in principle to hold a virtual bilateral (summit) meeting before the end of the year,” the US official told reporters.
Asked for details, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “We’re still working on what that would look like, when and of course the final details, we don’t quite have them yet. “
Early speculation had been that the two could meet in person at the G20 summit in Italy in October, but Xi has not left China since the pandemic began early last year.
“Today’s conversation, in general, was a more meaningful and substantial engagement than what we have had to date below the leadership level,” the official said, adding that Washington hoped that this would be a “model for future meetings”.
The official said, however, that this should not be seen as a thaw in relations.
“What we are trying to achieve is a stable state between the United States and China where we are able to compete intensely but manage this competition responsibly,” the official said.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Yang told Sullivan the confrontation would harm both countries and the world.
“The two parties agreed to take measures (…) to strengthen strategic communication, properly manage differences, avoid conflicts and confrontations,” the ministry statement said.
TENSIONS IN TAIWAN
Biden’s call with Xi in September ended a nearly seven-month gap in direct communication between the leaders, and the two discussed the need to ensure that their competition does not come into conflict.
Biden said on Tuesday he had spoken to Xi about Taiwan and that they had agreed to abide by the “Taiwan Accord” as tensions escalated between Taipei and Beijing.
Taiwan reported 148 Chinese Air Force planes in the southern and southwestern parts of its air defense zone over a four-day period starting Friday, the same day China celebrated a patriotic holiday. , the National Day. Read more
The Taiwanese Foreign Office, which had sought clarification from the United States on Biden’s comments, said on Wednesday that Washington had reassured them that its approach to Taiwan had not changed and that its Beijing’s claim to the democratically ruled island was “solid as a rock.” Read more
In his comments on Tuesday, Biden appeared to be referring to Washington’s long-standing policy of officially recognizing Beijing rather than Taipei, and the Taiwan Relations Act, which makes it clear that the United States’ decision to ‘Establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing instead of Taiwan is based on the hope that Taiwan’s future will be determined by peaceful means.
The White House said Sullivan will also travel to Brussels for meetings with NATO and European Union officials, as well as Paris, and brief Europeans on his meeting with Yang.
With trade tensions also high on the U.S.-China agenda, U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai, in Paris for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development meetings, said she hoped to meet with them soon. its Chinese counterparts.
On Monday, Tai unveiled the results of a month-long “top-down” review of China’s trade policy, pledging to hold “frank” talks with Beijing over its failure to deliver on promises made in the former President Donald Trump’s trade deal and to end harmful industrial policies.
Reporting by John Revill, Arnd Wiegmann and Michael Shields in Zurich, Ryan Woo and Tom Daly in Beijing, Michael Martina, Steve Holland, Daphne Psaledakis and David Brunnstrom in Washington; and Simon Lewis in Paris; Written by Stéphanie Nebehay and Michael Martina; Editing by William Maclean and Sonya Hepinstall
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.