WASHINGTON: Secretary of State John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi held "candid exchanges" on several contentious issues like the current situation in Hong Kong and South China Sea, a top American diplomat has said.
The Kerry-Yang meeting in Boston among other things also discussed the overall security situation in the Asia Pacific region, Afghanistan, human rights issues including Tibet, the dangerous rise of ISIL, spread of deadly Ebola virus, North Korea and cyber security.
The meeting was also aimed at paving the ground for US President Barack Obama's trip to China next month.
"These were constructive conversations in which both the Secretary and the (Chinese) State Councilor listened, were able to probe, and in I think quite effective ways were able to begin the process of thinking through how the other side might be able to take steps that could help generate progress and mitigate concerns.
There was a clear sense of focus on making headway and not defending territory in the form of rhetorical positions," a top State Department official said. In a rare departure from protocol, Kerry had invited Yang to his Boston home for talks.
On Friday, he hosted the top Chinese diplomat at his home and on Saturday they held a series of talks in the city.
The State Department official familiar with the talks spoke with reporters on condition of anonymity.
"Whether and when we will begin seeing the Chinese make headway on the issues of concern to us is a question to which I don’t have the answer. But I can say with confidence that Secretary Kerry got a full and careful hearing. These were not combative discussions, although they were direct, candid, and no holds were barred," the official said.
"It's important to create an environment that permits the Chinese to really hear us out, and by the same token, on some of these issues, it’s also valuable to demonstrate to the Chinese that they too are getting a thorough hearing of their positions and their concerns," he said.