Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Top U.S., China diplomats eye first meeting since balloon incident

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is considering meeting top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference starting this week, in what would be their first face-to-face talks after the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese spy balloon and other flying objects, sources said. Earlier this month, Blinken postponed a planned trip to Beijing due to what he called an unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty and airspace by a Chinese surveillance balloon later downed off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. The U.S. military says it has since shot down another three unidentified objects flying over North America. The balloon’s intrusion into U.S. airspace caused outrage in Washington, with politicians criticizing the military and President Joe Biden for failing to shoot it down when it first appeared. One U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that a meeting between Blinken and Wang was possible at the Munich conference, which runs from Feb. 17-19. A second source also said it was possible but that nothing had been confirmed. (https://neuters.de/world/us/top-us-china-diplomats-weigh-first-meeting-since-balloon-drama-bloomberg-news-2023-02-13/) Officials and analysts say the March G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting in India would be another opportunity, since both Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang are expected there.

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