Top US, China officials seek to improve soured ties in Vienna talks

The White House national security advisor has met with China's top diplomat and agreed to maintain channels of communication. The talks were aimed at easing tensions after relations soured over the flight of an alleged Chinese spy balloon across the United States.

The White House announced that US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and China's top diplomat Wang Yi met on Wednesday and Thursday in Vienna.

The two top officials discussed a range of topics, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine and cross-Strait issues.

A senior official of US President Joe Biden's administration told reporters that the two sides had "candid, substantive and constructive discussions" in their eight hours of talks.

In early February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his planned trip to China following the alleged spy balloon incident.

The senior official noted that while Sullivan and Wang did not discuss dates for a possible rescheduling of Blinken's visit, "We do anticipate there'll be engagements and visits in both directions over the coming months."

President Biden has been seeking to hold talks over the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Asked why this has not happened yet, he told reporters on Wednesday, "There's been progress. It'll work out."

Observers say China is hoping to prevent tensions from escalating by showing it intends to continue dialogue with the US ahead of the G7 summit in Hiroshima next week.