US, China agree to discuss climate change, other issues

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China said Saturday that it had agreed with the US to take up climate change and a handful of other issues, signaling a possible modicum of progress at recently concluded talks that were otherwise marked by acrimonious public exchanges over the issues that divide the world’s two largest economies.

The official Xinhua News Agency said in a dispatch from Anchorage, Alaska, where the two-day meeting wrapped up Friday, that China and the US had decided to set up a working group on climate change and hold talks “to facilitate activities of ... diplomatic and consular missions” and on issues related to each other’s journalists.

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The two countries feuded over journalist visas and consulates during the Trump administration, and climate change is seen as one area where they may be able to cooperate.

Senior Biden administration officials held their first face-to-face meeting with their Chinese counterparts in Alaska since taking office earlier this year. The talks opened with tense and extended exchanges over human rights before television cameras, before they retreated behind closed doors.

The Xinhua report did not provide any details on the climate change working group, other than to say both countries were committed to enhancing communication and cooperation in the field.

It also said the two sides discussed adjusting COVID-19 travel and visa policies and reciprocal arrangements for vaccination of their diplomats.

While the report said both countries agreed to hold talks on consular missions and journalists, it did not mention the previous disputes.

The US ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston last year, and China responded by closing he US consulate in the city of Chengdu.

Chinese journalists in the US and foreign journalists working for US media in China are now being granted only three-month stays, adding uncertainty to their work, though those stays have been generally renewed.

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