Washington expects U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the United States before year-end, whether at next week's U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) or after, the State Department said on Monday.
"I'll let the Chinese government speak to whether Wang Yi will or will not attend UNGA next week. But that said, whether it's UNGA or whether it is after UNGA sometime before the end of the year, it is still our expectation that Secretary Blinken will host Foreign Minister Wang Yi here in the United States," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people briefed on the matter, reported last week that China is planning to dispatch Vice President Han Zheng to UNGA, instead of sending Wang Yi on a broader U.S. trip as previously signaled.
The annual gathering of world leaders comes after U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday expressed disappointment that Chinese President Xi Jinping was not attending an upcoming summit of G20 leaders in India, but added that he was going to "get to see him."
Biden did not elaborate, but the next likely opportunity for Biden to hold talks with Xi, as the two countries seek to stabilize troubled relations, is an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco in November.
China's top security agency has hinted that any meeting between Xi and Biden in San Francisco later this year will depend on the United States "showing sufficient sincerity."
"As the president has said, he hopes to meet with President Xi sometime later this fall. We believe there is no substitute for one-on-one conversations at the leader level, so we will continue to work towards the possibility of that," Miller said on Monday.
Blinken traveled to Beijing in June, where he met with Wang's predecessor, Qin Gang, in the first visit by the top U.S. diplomat to China in five years. The U.S. State Department said then that they held "candid, substantive, and constructive" talks, and Blinken invited Qin to Washington to continue discussions.
Blinken subsequently met Wang on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Jakarta in Qin's absence.
Three other senior U.S. officials have traveled to China for meetings after Blinken's visit, but Chinese officials have yet to travel to the United States for talks.
Wang, 69, served as foreign minister from 2013 to 2022 as ties frayed with the United States to a point that Beijing described as an all-time low.