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US, China resume top level talks to explore way forward on trade disputes

The talks will focus on security, but trade is at the heart of tensions

AFP | PTI  |  Washington 

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping
The meeting in Washington comes weeks before US President Donald Trump is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit | File Photo: Reuters

The and resume top-level talks Friday after months of spiraling tension, looking to see if they can find a way forward on disputes from trade to military

Friday's delayed meeting in comes weeks before US leader is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, with both sides hoping they can announce some progress.

and will spend Friday morning with two high-ranking Chinese policymakers, days after a in which Trump painted as a bogeyman.

A planned trip by Mattis to last month was canceled amid rising military tensions between the Pacific powers. But on Friday, China's defense minister, Wei Fenghe, will visit the to a ceremonial honor cordon.

The defense chiefs will beforehand hold talks at the State Department jointly with Pompeo and senior Yang Jiechi, a longtime of Chinese foreign policy who formerly served as to

The talks will focus on security, but trade is at the heart of tensions. Trump has slapped $250 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods, accusing of nefarious trading practices, prompting retaliatory measures.

While some of the Trump administration's comments on have prompted commentators to draw parallels to the Cold War, Terry Branstad, the US to Beijing, said that was not seeking confrontation for its own sake.

"We want this to be a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China. The US is not trying to contain China, but we want fairness and reciprocity," Branstad told reporters on the eve of the talks.

Branstad said that the talks would consist of "frank, open exchanges" on issues from human rights to the myriad maritime disputes in the Sea.

"We want to achieve progress on our priorities including North Korea, and China has been a very key in helping to get to the bargaining table," Branstad said. Trump is seeking a follow-up to his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who counts on China as his main supporter.

But a meeting due this week in between Pompeo and a senior North Korean was abruptly called off, the latest twist in turbulent diplomacy.

With the occasional exception of policy, the has increasingly seen China as a on the scene and has been especially incensed at what it believes is widespread theft of

China has denied stealing US know-how and has sought to appear as a cooler head on the world stage.

Xi recently wooed investors by pledging action to encourage imports, while has insisted that China is not trying to dethrone the as the pre-eminent power.

The Trump administration, while generally soft-spoken on human rights, has taken China to task over its mass detainment of Uighurs, the mostly Muslim minority in its northwest.

A recent UN report said that as many as one million ethnic Uighurs are being kept in extrajudicial detention, some simply for outwardly practicing Islam.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Washington-based advocacy group that uses an alternative spelling for the ethnicity, urged the United States to raise the detentions in Friday's dialogue, saying it was important to show a "unified" global message.

Beijing, after initially denying the detention camps, has described them instead as vocational training centers that discourage religious extremism.

First Published: Fri, November 09 2018. 08:25 IST