The US and China held nuclear arms control talks in Washington on Monday amid bilateral efforts to maintain communication and reduce strategic risks, according to the State Department.
“These meetings are part of those ongoing efforts to maintain an open line of communication with the PRC and a full range of issues,” Patel said at a briefing on Monday.
Neither side has yet to release a readout of Monday’s meeting.
Three consultations between the US and China have taken place since Wang’s visit, covering maritime issues, policy planning and the advancement of disability rights.
“We have continually called on the PRC to substantively engage on arms control issues, and reducing strategic risk, and this engagement will continue efforts to responsibly manage the relationship and ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” said Patel.
He said Monday’s meeting involved Mallory Stewart, assistant secretary of state for arms control, joined by an American “inter-agency team”, and Sun Xiaobo, who leads the Chinese foreign ministry’s arms control department.
Most of the stockpile would be fielded on systems capable of reaching the continental US, it said.
Last year China rejected American requests to discuss strategic stability or strategic risk reduction and other impacts of Beijing’s rapid nuclear build-up, the report said.
Monday’s meeting represented a much-needed first step for both parties to better understand each other and their respective nuclear postures, wrote Tong Zhao of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Foreign Policy, a global affairs publication.
Nevertheless, Zhao said the discussion was likely to be general in nature and lacking much substantive exploration of forward-looking measures.
Expectations for progress ahead of Monday’s talks were low, according to an assessment by Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy. It said Beijing and Washington stood far apart on nuclear proliferation and arms control.
The US has sought China’s cooperation in reducing global nuclear stockpiles, but Beijing has argued that it should not have to slow or reverse its build-up while Washington’s arsenal remained far larger, Eurasia Group said.
Monday’s talks also offered a rare opportunity for new insights into the extent of China’s current nuclear stockpile, the consultancy added.
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