A file picture of a senior level US-China a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing, China. EFE/EPA/FILE/Andy Wong / POOL

US, China hold nuclear talks ahead of Xi-Biden meeting

Singapore/Washington DC, Nov 8 (EFE).- Official delegations of the United States and China held a discussion on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation ahead of a possible meeting between the presidents of the two countries next week.

The meeting took place Monday in Washington between delegations led by Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Mallory Stewart and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General of Arms Control Sun Xiaobo, according to a statement released Tuesday by the US State Department.

“The two sides held a candid and in-depth discussion on issues related to arms control and nonproliferation as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication” and responsibly manage the US-China relationship, according to the statement.

“The United States emphasized the importance of increased PRC nuclear transparency and substantive engagement on practical measures to manage and reduce strategic risks across multiple domains, including nuclear and outer space,” it added.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China’s nuclear arsenal increased by 17 percent in 2022 to 410 nuclear warheads, although it remains far behind the two major nuclear powers, Russia and the US (4,489 and 3,708, respectively).

The recent meeting brings hope for an expected thaw in the defense relations of the two major world powers and comes in the face of the war between Israel and Hamas, the conflict in Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula.

It also comes amid a push to increase China-US exchanges ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, to be held in San Francisco from Nov.15-17, where Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are expected to meet.

Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, on his part, said during a forum in Singapore that the recent senior level contacts between China and the United States have increased expectations of the international community about an improvement in bilateral ties in the future.

He added that China was willing to strengthen dialogue at all levels, promote mutual cooperation and manage differences in an appropriate manner.

This week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to meet in San Francisco with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who will be there from Nov. 9-10.

On Oct. 27, Biden welcomed China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the White House, the president’s highest-ranking meeting with a Chinese official in the past year, which emulated the meeting of Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Xi on his trip to Beijing in June.

Biden and Xi last met in November last year during the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, where they agreed to maintain regular contact after years of deteriorating relations due to the trade war, Taiwan issue and tensions in the Pacific.

Bilateral relations between the two nations nosedived in February when Washington accused Beijing of sending an alleged Chinese spy balloon into US airspace. EFE