US, China officials to hold top-level security talks Friday

By AFP   November 5, 2018 | 05:21 pm PT
US, China officials to hold top-level security talks Friday
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (R) and China's defense minister, General Wei Fenghe, seen during a visit by Mattis to Beijing on June 27, 2018. Photo by AFP/Mark Schiefelbein
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will host their Chinese counterparts Friday in Washington.

The second U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue will bring Mattis and Pompeo together with senior Communist Party foreign affairs official Yang Jiechi, and with General Wei Fenghe, a U.S. State Department statement said.

The talks, which follow on from a first meeting held in June 2017, are the latest sign of a normalization of U.S.-China security ties, after relations soured dramatically amid tensions over trade and the South China Sea.

In early October, a U.S. defense official said that a planned visit by Mattis to China had been canceled, because Beijing declined to make Wei available.

But addressing a Middle East security conference last week, Mattis said his Chinese counterpart Fenghe would shortly travel to Washington, adding that "strategic competition does not imply hostility."

Washington and Beijing have been locked in a high-stakes standoff over President Donald Trump's move to end what he says have been years of unfair trade practices by China.

Trump imposed new tariffs on roughly half of Chinese imports this summer while Beijing fired back with tariffs on most U.S. products.

He went on to escalate the feud into a full-press offensive -- boosting military support for rival Taiwan, accusing China of interfering in US elections, stepping up denunciations of Beijing's human rights record and curtailing its access to U.S. nuclear technology.

But Trump sounded a more conciliatory note last week, heralding "very good" talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and later declaring that he expected their trade conflict to end with "a very good deal."

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also told a visiting delegation of U.S. lawmakers last week that he hoped their countries can meet "halfway" amid friction over trade, security and other issues.

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