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China-US Talks Fail to Heal Rift

  • Peter Simpson

Despite meetings this week in Beijing between senior American and Chinese officials, China is repeating its call to the United States to fix strained relations between the two countries.

China describes Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg's two-day fence-mending visit to Beijing as candid and in depth.

But, if there has been an improvement in ties after Steinberg's talks with his Chinese counterparts, it was not evident at the media briefing given by the Chinese Foreign Ministry after his departure.

Spokesman Qin Gang repeated in the determined tone used in recent weeks that, if the bilateral relationship is to continue on a stable path, it is up to Washington to make amends and push the relationship back to more friendly terms.

He says Washington has to sincerely respect China's core interests and specifically mentioned Taiwan and Tibet, referring to the U.S. arms sales to Taipei and the White House meeting with Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama - just two of several issues that have angered Beijing.

An American embassy spokesman told VOA it is too early to assess the impact of the deputy secretary of state's visit.

"Our goal has always been to make our relationship more mature to weather any issue good or bad, to [a point] where we can continue to the number of dialogues and numerous lines of communications we have to overcome our differences and find areas of cooperation," he said.

His response emphases how the slightest nuances of the talks will be poured over by both sides for true their meaning and significance.

In the talks, Steinberg pressed Beijing to consider sanctions against Iran because of Tehran's nuclear program. But, with oil interests in the country, Beijing is reluctant to upset a key ally.

And Qin again said China, which has the power to veto any UN Security Council sanctions - still believes there is room for diplomacy.

U.S. officials say they will offer clearer insight into Steinberg's talks Friday.

The deputy secretary of state has flown on to Tokyo to meet Japanese government officials.

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