The talks, which were not announced in advance, lasted four and a half hours. They came as a possible prelude to a meeting between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, which the White House has said is possible in the coming months.
Biden is also considering whether to raise some tariffs on China that former President Donald Trump imposed in an attempt to tame inflation in the United States.
After Sullivan’s meeting with Yang Jiechi, a senior administration official said he expected “to see additional potential meetings in the coming months,” although they said there was currently no scheme between Biden and Xi.
These steps are seen as an attempt to counter China’s influence in the region, which was the primary driver of Biden’s focus on Asia.
“Mr. Sullivan emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to manage competition between our two countries,” the White House said in a statement to Monday’s meeting.
The issue was discussed in Luxembourg on Monday, along with recent provocations by North Korea and the detention of Americans in China. Sullivan said Americans subject to the exit ban were a “personal priority” for Biden and for him.
He also expressed concern about China’s recent veto of a UN Security Council resolution related to North Korea. He stressed “the importance of maintaining open lines of communication at all levels.”
The official said the US goal in engaging China was to “ensure that each side understands the other’s intentions, and understands the priorities.” “This is critical to avoid potential misunderstandings and misinterpretations and reduce risk. I think all of these things are essential, you know, to manage the relationship in a healthy and responsible way.”
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