17:51 GMT06 March 2021
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    Top American and Chinese officials met on Wednesday to discuss the differences in approaches to the controversial issues of the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Senior officials from the United States and China discussed ways to narrow gaps on the issue of the South China Sea, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday.

    "On South China Sea, this is a dialogue where we identified areas where we can work together, and to understand those areas where we have, I would call them, disconnects…. We'll continue to work to close gaps in our understanding and to work in some kind of manner in the future that removes these irritants," Mattis said in a joint news conference with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    China claims the entire South China Sea region as its own and is engaged in a bitter dispute with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan who also have counter claims. Beijing has built installations at strategically located islands in the region, which is considered to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources.

    When it comes to the North Korean nuclear issue, Mattis said that they recommitted to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during the talks.

    "We… reaffirmed our strong commitment to cooperation, including through the United Nations, to realize our shared goal of denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula," Mattis stated.

    In recent months, however, tensions surrounding North Korea's nuclear and missile programs have drastically escalated due to an increased frequency missile launches and nuclear tests. The most recent launch took place on June 8, when North Korea carried out a launch of short-range anti-ship missiles which reportedly flew some 199.5 kilometers (124 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan.

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    Tags:
    Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, South China Sea, Korean Peninsula, China, US
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