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U.S. holds 'intense' 7-hour talks with China amid Russia's war in Ukraine

CNBC logo CNBC 3/14/2022 Amanda Macias
  • A senior administration official described the talks, which were held in Rome, as "intense" and spanning at least seven hours.
  • The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said national security advisor Jake Sullivan conveyed to the Chinese delegation that the U.S. is concerned Beijing may attempt to help Russia blunt global sanctions.
  • Sullivan's trip comes on the heels of reports that Moscow requested that China provide military equipment for its war in Ukraine, which is now in its third week.
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WASHINGTON – Officials from the United States and China met on Monday to discuss a range of challenges facing their bilateral relationship, including Russia's war in Ukraine.

A senior administration official described the talks, which were held in Rome, as "intense" and spanning at least seven hours.

The official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, conveyed to China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, that the U.S. is concerned Beijing may attempt to help Russia blunt global sanctions.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 23, 2021. © Provided by CNBC National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 23, 2021.

"What I would say in general is that we do have deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia," the official said. "The national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions."

Sullivan's trip comes on the heels of reports that Moscow requested that China provide military equipment for its war in Ukraine, which is now in its third week. The official played down the timing of the trip when pressed by reporters.

"This meeting had been planned for some time," the official said, adding that schedules were coordinated last fall between U.S. and Chinese officials.

Beijing has denied reports that it was asked by Moscow for military equipment or any other assistance to support its Ukraine invasion. On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied allegations that Russia requested military aid from China.

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a Victory Day military parade marking the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II. © Provided by CNBC Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a Victory Day military parade marking the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II.

"We are watching very closely to the extent to which the PRC or any country in the world provides support material, economic, financial, rhetorical otherwise, to this war of choice that President Putin is waging against the government of Ukraine, against the state of Ukraine and against the people of Ukraine," State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a separate press briefing on Monday, referencing the People's Republic of China.

"We have been very clear both privately with Beijing and publicly with Beijing that there would be consequences for any such support," Price added.

"If China does choose to materially support Russia in this war, there will likely be consequences for China in that regard," a senior U.S. defense official said on a call with reporters on Monday.

"We have seen China basically give tacit approval to what Russia is doing by refusing to join sanctions, by blaming the West and the United States for the assistance we've given Ukraine, and by claiming they wanted to see a peaceful outcome but essentially doing nothing to achieve it," the official added.

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