Top US envoy has no plan to meet Chinese foreign minister at G20 meeting

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is not planning to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting in Italy next week, a senior State Department official said Friday.

“I can say there is no meeting planned between Secretary Blinken and the Chinese foreign minister at the G20 ministerial,” Susannah Cooper, director of the department’s Office of Monetary Affairs, told a conference call, referring to the G20 gathering scheduled for Tuesday.

The Financial Times recently reported that the United States and China were discussing a possible meeting between Blinken and Wang on the fringes of the G20 meeting, citing three people briefed on the talks.

If realized, it would have been the first face-to-face meeting between the two diplomats since March, when they had tense exchanges in Alaska over their differing visions for the international order, their respective positions on human rights issues and other topics.

Despite the confrontation on various fronts, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier this month that U.S. President Joe Biden will seek to engage with Chinese President Xi Jinping, suggesting a possible bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit to be held in Rome in late October.

The G20 groups Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The G20 foreign ministers are meeting for the first time in person since 2019, with the coronavirus pandemic having made it difficult to hold major international gatherings throughout most of last year.

During the meeting to be held in Matera, southern Italy, Blinken will stress the importance of multilateralism, after the previous U.S. administration led by Donald Trump faced criticism for his unilateralist “America First” agenda, while highlighting U.S. efforts to lead the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, Cooper said.

Blinken will also encourage other G20 countries to step up efforts to tackle climate change and build consensus toward setting an “ambitious” global minimum corporate tax rate, which the United States believes will help forge a more fair global economy, she said.

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