Blinken, Wang meet as US-China gear up towards expected leaders summit

By Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi reconvened for a second day of meetings on Friday as the two rival powers discuss how to manage differences while laying groundwork for an expected summit between President Joe Biden and his counterpart Xi Jinping.

Wang arrived at the State Department late on Thursday and held a meeting with Blinken followed by a dinner. The two diplomats engaged again on Friday morning, sitting across from each other at a wide table with their senior aides before journalists were ushered out of the closed-door meeting.

Wang is set to head to the White House and meet with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan later on Friday. He is also expected to speak with Biden, although it is unclear how substantial their interaction will be.

Wang’s three-day visit is the latest in a flurry of diplomatic engagements between China and the U.S., and the trip primarily is to prepare for an expected Xi-Biden summit in November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting in San Francisco. China has yet to announce whether Xi will attend.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has added a fresh dynamic to the testy relationship between the superpowers, and Washington is hoping Beijing can use its influence with Iran to prevent an escalation into a wider war in the Middle East.

On Thursday, Wang told Blinken that the two countries have disagreements and need “in-depth” and “comprehensive” dialogue to reduce misunderstandings and stabilize ties. “Not only should we resume dialogue, the dialogue should be in-depth and comprehensive,” Wang said, speaking through an interpreter.

The Biden administration’s priority with Beijing has been to prevent intense competition between the two largest economies and disagreements on a host of issues – including trade, Taiwan, human rights and the South China Sea – from veering into conflict.

However, while both Beijing and Washington have spoken about looking for areas where they can work together, and Xi said on Wednesday that China was willing to cooperate on global challenges, experts do not expect immediate progress.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Michael Martina; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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