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Top U.S., Chinese officials talk Taiwan, Iran in Bangkok

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Top Chinese and U.S. officials held candid talks in Bangkok aimed at lowering tensions between the superpowers on Taiwan and other subjects, ahead of an expected springtime call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Reuters/Tingshu Wang

Top Chinese and U.S. officials held candid talks in Bangkok aimed at lowering tensions between the superpowers on Taiwan and other subjects, ahead of an expected springtime call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan pressed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to use his country's diplomatic influence to convince Iran to curtail support for Houthis attacking Red Sea merchant vessels, according to a senior Biden administration official.

The meetings, which spanned more than 12 hours over two days and wrapped on Saturday, are intended to deliver on Biden and Xi's agreement at a California summit in November to restore ruptured diplomatic talks on a range of global security and economic issues like defense and counter-narcotics despite significant disagreements.

China's foreign ministry and the White House said in statements that the two sides had agreed to keep in contact to manage sensitive issues.

Saturday's meeting was the fourth and latest quiet engagement between Wang and Sullivan, the two having met previously away from media to try to lower the temperature.

It sets the stage for an expected call between Xi and Biden in the coming months, potentially this spring, a senior Biden administration official said. That would be the eighth call or meeting between the leaders of Biden's presidency.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to Beijing in the coming months, more military-to-military talks are planned in the coming months and counter-narcotics talks start between the countries on Tuesday in Beijing.

Reuters reported on Friday that Chinese officials have asked their Iranian counterparts to help rein in attacks on ships in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthi group. The United States has previously asked China to make such overtures with Iran, the report said, citing Iranian and other sources.

"This is not the first time we have called on Beijing to play a constructive role," the U.S. official said, confirming that aspect of the Reuters report.

"We are certainly going to wait and see the results before we comment further on how effective we think - or whether we think they are actually raising it."

By Chayut Setboonsarng, Liangping Gao and Trevor Hunnicutt

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