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U.S. sets military talks with China as priority at Biden-Xi summit

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, and China’s President Xi Jinping meet at the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Nov. 14, 2022.  (SAUL LOEB/AFP)
By Jennifer Jacobs and Gregory Korte Bloomberg News

The White House cited a resumption of U.S.-China military communications as a priority ahead of this week’s meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.

“The Chinese have basically severed those communication links,” U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. “President Biden would like to reestablish them. And he will look to this summit as an opportunity to try to advance the ball on that.”

The issue “has been a priority” for Biden and “we need those lines of communication so that there aren’t mistakes or miscalculations or miscommunication,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

China suspended the communications last year to protest then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The defense-to-defense ties were further complicated when Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu was ousted last month, leaving U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with no direct counterpart.

Sullivan said the hotline should be restored between top defense officials “all the way down to the tactical, operational level.”

Iran also is on the agenda for the Biden-Xi meeting Wednesday during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco – their first face-to-face meeting in a year and Xi’s first trip to the U.S. in six years.

“Certainly, the question of Iran’s nuclear program and the threat it poses will be on the agenda, as will the threat that Iran poses to regional stability, and the threat it poses to U.S. forces in the region,” Sullivan said on CBS.

The U.S. is seeking to tighten sanctions against Iran, which is a key source of oil for China, as Tehran supports groups such as Hamas, which carried out the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The U.S. and Europe classify Hamas as a terrorist group.