Biden adviser Sullivan and China's Yang discuss regional security

China's Yang Jiechi (left) and the US' Jake Sullivan discussed regional security issues during their call. PHOTOS: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Joe Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone on Wednesday (May 18) with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi, a call focused on regional security issues and nonproliferation, the White House said.

Biden will visit Asia from May 20-24, including South Korea and Japan, a trip aimed at bolstering ties with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region in the face of growing US competition with Beijing.

Sullivan and Yang "also discussed Russia's war against Ukraine and specific issues in US-China relations", the White House said in a short statement, without giving further details.

The two last met in Rome in March, ahead of Biden's call that month with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, during which the US president warned Xi of consequences should Beijing offer material support for Moscow's war in Ukraine.

China, which weeks before the Russian invasion announced a "no-limits" partnership with Moscow, has refused to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions and has criticised sweeping Western sanctions on Russia.

But after nearly three months of the war, senior US officials say they have not detected overt Chinese military and economic support for Russia, a welcome development in the tense US-China relationship.

North Korea appears to be preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ahead of Biden's trip to Asia, which could overshadow his administration's broader focus on China and trade, and underscore the lack of progress in denuclearisation talks.

The United States has pushed for more United Nations sanctions on North Korea, but China and Russia have signalled opposition, arguing sanctions should be eased to jump-start talks and provide humanitarian relief to the impoverished North.

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