In se­cu­rity talks, China, US want to tamp down ten­sions

The Modesto Bee - - Nation & World - BY MATTHEW PEN­NING­TON As­so­ci­ated Press

China bluntly told the United States to stop send­ing ships and mil­i­tary air­craft close to is­lands claimed by Bei­jing in the South China Sea, dur­ing talks Fri­day that set the stage for a meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping later this month.

The U.S. pushed back, in­sist­ing it will con­tinue to “fly, sail and op­er­ate wher­ever in­ter­na­tional law al­lows.” In late Septem­ber, U.S. and Chi­nese ves­sels nearly col­lided near a dis­puted reef.

De­spite the frank air­ing of dif­fer­ences at the meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton of the two na­tions’ top diplo­mats and mil­i­tary chiefs, both sides stressed the need to tamp down ten­sions, which have flared amid a bit­ter trade dis­pute that Trump and Xi are ex­pected to tackle at the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina.

“The United States is not pur­su­ing a pol­icy of Cold War con­tain­ment with China,” Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo told re­porters fol­low­ing the U.S.-China Diplo­matic and Se­cu­rity Di­a­logue.

The talks were due to be held in Bei­jing last month but were post­poned af­ter Wash­ing­ton an­nounced new arms sales to Tai­wan, and af­ter a Chi­nese de­stroyer came close to the USS De­catur in late Septem­ber in what the U.S. Navy called an “un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional ma­neu­ver.” Bei­jing has sweep­ing but dis­puted sovereignty claims in the area.

“The Chi­nese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop send­ing its ves­sels and mil­i­tary air­craft close to Chi­nese is­lands and reefs and stop ac­tions that un­der­mine Chi­nese au­thor­ity and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests,” said Pom­peo’s Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Yang Jiechi, who also had sharp words over U.S. sup­port for Tai­wan.

CAROLYN KASTER AP

Shak­ing hands on Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton, from left, Mike Pom­peo, Gen­eral Wei Fenghe, Jim Mat­tis and Yang Jiechi.

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