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US, China Open First Meeting to Ease Cyber Disputes

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The United States and China have opened the first meeting of a committee aimed at easing cybersecurity disputes that have become a major irritant in relations between the two world powers.

U.S. and Chinese officials of the cybersecurity working group met in Washington Monday. They hope to make progress before senior ministers of the two sides hold security and economic talks in the U.S. capital on Wednesday and Thursday.

Washington and Beijing agreed in April to start this cybersecurity dialogue.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday said the meeting has several goals.

"We are hopeful it will enable the two sides to share perspectives on international laws and norms in cyberspace, raise concerns as needed, develop processes for future cooperation, and set the tone for future constructive and cooperative bilateral dialogues," said Psaki.

The Obama administration has accused China of involvement in a broad Internet hacking campaign to steal secrets from U.S. government institutions and businesses for economic gain.

China long has complained that it is a victim of cyber attacks from the United States and elsewhere. Chinese officials have highlighted recent leaks by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to bolster their case.

Snowden told several newspapers last month that the United States has hacked Internet traffic in China and its autonomous region of Hong Kong for years to gather intelligence.

U.S. President Barack Obama has insisted there is a distinction between intelligence gathering activities that many nations conduct and stealing trade secrets for commercial advantage.

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