Senior US, Chinese Diplomats Hold ‘Candid’ Talks To Avoid Escalation of Tensions 

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink leaves a hotel during his visit to Beijing, China June 6, 2023. (Reuters)
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink leaves a hotel during his visit to Beijing, China June 6, 2023. (Reuters)
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Senior US, Chinese Diplomats Hold ‘Candid’ Talks To Avoid Escalation of Tensions 

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink leaves a hotel during his visit to Beijing, China June 6, 2023. (Reuters)
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink leaves a hotel during his visit to Beijing, China June 6, 2023. (Reuters)

Senior US and Chinese diplomats held “candid and productive” talks in Beijing and agreed to keep open lines of communication to avoid tensions from spiraling into conflict, officials said Tuesday.

Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant US secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, was the most senior US official confirmed to have visited China on Monday since tensions between Washington and Beijing soared over the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon over the US in early February.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the time postponed a planned trip to China, and Beijing has since largely rebuffed attempts at official exchanges, though two top US and Chinese defense officials briefly interacted at a forum in Singapore over the weekend.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Kritenbrink and Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu “had candid, constructive and fruitful communication on promoting the improvement of China-US relations and properly managing differences.”

Beijing said it had stated its “solemn position on Taiwan” — a self-ruled island China claims as its territory to be annexed by force if necessary — and other issues and that the two sides had agreed to maintain communication.

The US State Department also said the two officials held “candid and productive discussions as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and build on recent high-level diplomacy between the two countries.”

The US Navy on Sunday complained about an “unsafe interaction” in the Taiwan Strait, after a Chinese warship came within 150 yards (137 meters) of a US destroyer. And last month, a Chinese fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, where Beijing shares overlapping territorial claims with other nations.

CIA Director William Burns last month reportedly took a secret trip to Beijing in another sign the two sides are interested in restoring communication through various channels.



NATO Chief Says the Alliance Is Adapting Its Nuclear Arsenal to Security Threats

 NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
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NATO Chief Says the Alliance Is Adapting Its Nuclear Arsenal to Security Threats

 NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference on the eve of a NATO Defense ministers meeting at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on June 12, 2024. (AFP)

In a rare reference to the Western nuclear arsenal, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday highlighted the alliance's efforts to adapt its capabilities to current security threats, taking note of Russia latest nuclear rhetoric and drills.

Talking to reporters before a two-day NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels that will include a gathering of the alliance's nuclear planning group, he called nuclear weapons NATO's "ultimate security guarantee" and a means to preserve peace.

While it is well known that the US has deployed nuclear bombs to several locations in Europe, NATO rarely talks about these weapons publicly.

Discussing what he called "the ongoing adaptation" of NATO's nuclear arsenal, Stoltenberg said the Netherlands in June declared the first F-35 fighter jets ready to carry nuclear arms and said the US was modernizing its nuclear weapons in Europe.

He described increasing Russian activity around its nuclear capabilities. "What we have seen over the last years and months is a dangerous nuclear rhetoric from the Russian side.... We also see some more exercises, nuclear exercises on the Russian side," he said.

On Tuesday, Russia said its troops had started the second stage of drills to practice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons alongside Belarusian troops after what Moscow said were threats from Western powers.

Since sending thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said Moscow could use nuclear weapons to defend itself in extreme situations.

Russia accuses the US and its European allies of pushing the world to the brink of nuclear confrontation by giving Ukraine billions of dollars worth of weapons, some of which are being used against Russian territory.

Stoltenberg also referred also to the modernization of China's nuclear weapons, saying Beijing was expected to boost the number of nuclear missiles within a few years and many of them would be able to reach NATO territory.