Pompeo to meet top Chinese official in Hawaii amid tensions

Washington:  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make a brief trip to Hawaii this week for closed-door talks with a senior Chinese official, as relations between the two nations have plummeted amid numerous disputes.

The State Department said Pompeo and his deputy Stephen Biegun would travel to Hawaii on Tuesday and Wednesday but offered no additional detail about his plans. People familiar with the trip said Pompeo and Biegun will meet Wednesday with a Chinese delegation led by Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign affairs official.

The private discussions are set to take place at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu and will cover the wide range of issues that have set the world’s two largest economies on a collision path, according to the people familiar with the trip who were not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Washington and Beijing are at odds over trade, China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, human rights, the status of Hong Kong and increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. The presence of Biegun, who is also the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, suggested that the stalemate in the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang would also be on the agenda.

In recent months, the two sides have ramped up their hostile rhetoric and taken reciprocal steps to expel journalists and restrict diplomats’ ability to travel. (AP)

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