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Top US Official Expected to Urge Beijing to Avoid Escalation in S. China Sea

FILE - U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, left, shakes hands with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, Aug. 28, 2015.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice will travel to Beijing and Shanghai next week, ahead of the September G-20 summit in China, the White House said in a statement Friday.

In Beijing, Rice is scheduled to meet with senior government officials, including State Councilor Yang Jiechi, to consult on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues in advance of President Barack Obama’s visit to China in September for the summit of the Group of 20 most industrialized economies, the White House said in a statement.

In Shanghai, Rice will meet with business executives to discuss conditions for U.S. businesses operating in China and meet with private Chinese citizens.

Rice will underscore the U.S. commitment to expanding practical cooperation and constructively managing differences with China, the statement said.

Rice’s July 24-27 trip is the highest-level U.S. visit to the country since a U.N. court rejected China’s claims to strategic waterways.

Reuters news agency is reporting that Rice is expected to urge China to avoid escalation of tensions in the South China Sea.

In an exclusive interview with the news agency, Rice is quoted as saying that the U.S. military would continue to "sail and fly and operate" in the South China Sea, despite a Chinese warning that such patrols could end "in disaster."

Beijing had reasserted its claims to the South China Sea area after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on July 12 that there was no legal basis for them.

The sea has become an area for rivalry between the two powers, with Washington in recent months sending naval vessels close to islands and outcrops claimed by China.

Rice’s trip coincides with visits by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Laos and the Philippines where he is expected to try to reassure Southeast Asian partners of Washington's commitment to the region.