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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit China for talks to defuse tensions

China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea and has built islands on reefs and equipped them with military facilities such as airstrips, radar domes and missile systems.

Published: 04th October 2018 07:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th October 2018 07:09 PM   |  A+A-

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (File Photo | AP)

By PTI

BEIJING: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit China on October 8 to hold talks with top Chinese leaders amid escalating tension between the world's two largest economies over trade and Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Announcing Pompeo's visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement on Wednesday that China and the US will exchange views on bilateral ties and regional and international issues of common concern.

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The visit comes amid reports that China has cancelled talks with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis after the US' allegations that Chinese naval ship conducted unsafe manoeuvres near its destroyer Decatur when passed through the islands off the disputed South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation.

Hua, however, said it was Washington which proposed the postponement of the second round of their Diplomatic and Security Dialogue and refuted recent US media reports that China had proposed putting off the dialogue.

"Such an argument completely distorts the fact with ulterior motives and is extremely irresponsible," she said.

"The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction. The fact is the United States recently made a proposal to China that it hoped to postpone the dialogue," Hua said.

"We demand the parties concerned stop fabricating and spreading rumours," she said.

On Tuesday, Hua said China and the US had previously agreed in principle to hold the dialogue in mid-October, while the US recently proposed putting it off.

China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea and has built islands on reefs and equipped them with military facilities such as airstrips, radar domes and missile systems.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over some of the areas claimed by China.

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Pompeo's visit is aimed at lowering tensions between the two world's largest economies.

Both the countries are currently locked in a trade war slapping billions of dollars of tariffs on each other's export products.

Ties have also worsened in recent weeks with a US decision to impose sanctions on a Chinese military unit over the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile equipment.

During a meeting of the UN Security Council, President Donald Trump has accused China of interfering in American elections to help his Democratic rivals.



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