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US-China tensions

China, U.S. to work on climate, Beijing says after rancorous meeting

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd right), joined by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (right), speaks while facing Yang Jiechi (2nd left), director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office, and Wang Yi (left), China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister, at the opening session of US-China talks in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. March 18, 2021.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China and the United States will set up a joint working group on climate change, China's official Xinhua news agency said, in a potentially positive takeaway from what was an unusually rancorous high-level meeting.

The top Chinese and U.S. diplomats, in their first meeting of Joe Biden's presidency on Thursday and Friday, publicly rebuked each other's policies at the start of what Washington called "tough and direct" talks in Alaska.

But the Chinese delegation said after the meeting the two sides were "committed to enhancing communication and cooperation in the field of climate change," Xinhua said on Saturday.

They would also hold talks to facilitate the activities of diplomats and consular missions, "as well as on issues related to media reporters in the spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefit," the report said.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Sunday.

Last year, as tensions between Beijing and Washington worsened dramatically, the two countries expelled journalists and the United States shut China's consulate in Houston, prompting China to shut the U.S. consulate in Chengdu.

The talks in Anchorage, headed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, had a fiery kickoff, in front of TV cameras, and had appeared to yield no diplomatic breakthroughs.

But the Chinese delegation said "both sides share the hope of continuing such type of high-level strategic communication," Xinhua reported.

"The two sides also agreed that they ... will maintain dialogue and communication, conduct mutually beneficial cooperation, avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment, as well as conflict and confrontation, so as to promote sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations."

China and the United States also discussed adjusting travel and visa policies according to the coronavirus pandemic situation, "and gradually promoting the normalization of personnel exchanges between China and the United States," the report said.

After the meetings, Yang told China's CGTN television that the discussions had been constructive and beneficial, "but of course, there are still differences."

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