Security talks signal easing tensions

Top News | 7 Nov 2018

The United States and China will hold top-level security talks on Friday, the State Department announced, in a sign of easing tensions after months of escalation over trade and regional disputes.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will host senior Chinese officials in Washington for the second US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, following a meeting in June 2017.

The announcement of talks with Communist Party foreign affairs official Yang Jiechi and General Wei Fenghe came on the eve of US congressional elections, in which President Donald Trump has cast China as a villain set on bringing him down.

Early last month, a US defense official said 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 Wei would shortly travel to Washington, adding that "strategic competition does not imply hostility."

Trump turned the feud into a full-press offensive - boosting military support for rival Taiwan, stepping up denunciations of Beijing's human rights record and curtailing its access to US nuclear technology.

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

But views on China have hardened across the political spectrum in Washington, with more and more US policymakers saying Beijing's calls for calm masks a bid to seize advantage.


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