US and China open annual dialogue with 'candid, to-the-point' talks

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U.S. And China Open Annual Dialogue With 'Candid, To-The-Point' Talks

The United States and China held "candid and to-the-point" talks at the start of three days of cabinet-level meetings aimed at managing the highly complex relationship between the world's two biggest economies, a senior U.S. official said.

The U.S. side, led on Monday by Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reiterated U.S. concerns about China's pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea, the official said.

U.S. worries about cybersecurity following massive attacks on government computers that U.S. officials have blamed on Chinese hackers would also be addressed "in very direct terms," the official said.

More than 400 Chinese officials are in Washington for the annual talks under the wide-ranging Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) framework, which will involve eight U.S. cabinet secretaries.

The APEC summit in China last fall:

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US and China open annual dialogue with 'candid, to-the-point' talks
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) gestures as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama reviews an honour guard with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at a welcome ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) accompanies U.S. President Barack Obama (R) to view an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. U.S. President Barack Obama pays a state visit to China after attending the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) attend a meeting with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang (2nd R) at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (centre L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) attend a meeting with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang (centre R) at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama attends a meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One shortly before departing from Capital International Airport in Beijing on November 12, 2014, on his way to attend the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Myanmar after a state visit following the APEC summit in Beijing. Myanmar kicked off on November 12 its biggest gathering of world leaders since shedding junta rule but concerns over the pace of democratic reforms are expected to surface at the two-day event featuring US President Barack Obama. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. Obama is on a state visit, after attending the APEC summit, during a week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. (Photo by Petar Kujundzic -Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) takes part in a bilateral meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (green tie) step out from the Great Hall of the People following a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry toasts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER /POOL (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping drink a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER /POOL (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) returns to his seat as Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds after they drank a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER /POOL (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and China's President Xi Jinping (R) arrive for a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama, center, is seated during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. With Obama are U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, right. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center right, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Chinese Presient Xi Jinping, center left, are seated with their respective delegations as they meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama (R) walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a welcome ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 12, 2014. Obama began a one-day state visit after the closing of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, smiles after a group of children waved flags and flowers to cheer him during a welcome ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. When Xi Jinping took the reins of a booming China two years ago, President Barack Obama saw an opportunity to remake America's relationship with the Asian power. But even after Obama's unusually robust efforts to forge personal ties with Xi, the two leaders are meeting in Beijing amid significant tensions, both old and new. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A Chinese honor guard prepares to welcome U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2L), Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2L), Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (R), Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping (C), Brunei Sultain Hassanal Bolkiah (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) attend a family photo ceremony during the APEC Leaders meeting November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan (R) as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan (R) as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L), Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (C), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) watch a fireworks display during the APEC Leaders meeting on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC Summit hosted 1500 economic leaders in Beijing to deliberate key issues facing the Asia-Pacific economy. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, who is hosting a welcome dinner for APEC leaders at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. At right is Peng Liyuan, Xi’s wife. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, who is hosting a welcome dinner for APEC leaders at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. At right is Peng Liyuan, Xi’s wife. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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The meetings come at a time of waning trust and widening differences between the two countries, even though they maintain robust economic ties worth $590 billion in two-way trade last year.

U.S. concerns have been mounting about Beijing's challenge to its dominance of global finance and about restrictions on U.S. businesses in China.

U.S. President Barack Obama is struggling to secure backing from Congress for legislation needed to speed a 12-nation trade deal, which is the economic plank of his Asia policy intended as a counterweight to China's growing influence.

The two sides will try to ease tensions by stressing areas of cooperation, including climate change, shared concerns about Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs, the fight against Islamist militancy, and support for global development.

"We have agreed with the Chinese that we are going to try to expand those areas where our interests overlap and expand cooperation in those areas," the U.S. official said. But the aim was not to "paper over" contentious issues, or to "agree to disagree," but to narrow differences to avoid miscalculations.

Despite the considerable areas of tension, China is hoping for a smooth set of meetings to prepare for a visit to Washington by President Xi Jinping in September.

Prospects for substantial outcomes from the cabinet-level meetings appeared slim, with any scant progress likely to be held over for announcement during Xi's visit, analysts said.

The sides are expected to discuss a Bilateral Investment Treaty that has been seven years in discussion but has been held up by restrictions on both sides, while China is likely to press its bid to add the yuan to the International Monetary Fund's basket of reserve currencies.

Blinken and Secretary of State John Kerry will chair the security side of the talks with State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on the Chinese side.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang will chair the economic elements, and the top Chinese officials will meet Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Jason Lange, Krista Hughes,Anna Yukhananov, Megan Cassella and Idrees Ali in Washington and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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