U.S. says Biden, Xi to talk virtually by year's end

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have agreed to virtual talks by the end of the year, according to a senior U.S. official, following a high-level meeting between top officials from both countries on Wednesday.

U.S. officials said Wednesday's closed-door talks followed up on issues raised during a call between the two leaders last month.

The meeting between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi marked their first face-to-face encounter since a bitter public summit in Alaska in March.

The White House said Sullivan raised concerns about China's actions in the South China Sea, Beijing's human rights record and its stances on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Taiwan, but that the talks were constructive, candid, and very different from the Alaska summit.

Biden's call with Xi in September ended a nearly seven-month gap in communication between the leaders, who discussed the need to ensure that their competition does not veer into conflict, a sentiment reiterated during Wednesday's talks.

On Tuesday Biden said he and Xi had reiterated their commitment to the "Taiwan agreement," under which Washington officially recognizes Beijing instead of Taipei with the expectation that Taiwan's future will be determined by peaceful means.

Biden's comments come after Taiwan reported nearly 150 Chinese air force planes in its air defence zone over the past week.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Washington reassured them that its approach to Taiwan had not changed, and that its commitment to the Chinese-claimed island was quote "rock solid."

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