U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China's official Xinhua News Agency said, with Washington expected to have pressed Beijing to exercise restraint at a time when its territorial claims have raised tensions with its neighbors.
The talks with Xi, thought to be the first in a series of meetings between Kerry and Chinese officials during his visit, highlight the importance China has attached to its ties with the United States.
In the talks, Xi told Kerry that China was committed to building a "new model" of ties between the two largest economies in the world, according to Xinhua.
China, he said, "will continue to enhance dialogue, boost mutual trust and cooperation, and properly handle differences" for "lasting and healthy development" of the ties.
Kerry, for his part, said an updated approach to the ties between the great powers is "very important" for Washington, adding that President Barack Obama is looking forward to seeing Xi again "shortly," according to the report.
In a meeting later in the day, Wang told Kerry that Beijing is willing to work with Washington to carry out several principles for a new type of relations between major powers, such as no conflict, no confrontation, and mutual respect, Xinhua reported.
In the same meeting, Kerry was expected to urge China to not just play a mediator's role but also exert its influence over the reclusive country, including economic leverage, to nudge Pyongyang toward denuclearization.
Over disputes between China and other Asian countries, Kerry was expected to convey to Wang Washington's position that Beijing should not try to change the status quo, including over islands in the East China Sea that are administered by Japan but claimed by China.
The secretary was also expected to urge China not to expand the air defense zone it declared last year over parts of the East China Sea to the South China Sea because such a move would be certain to further increase regional tensions given the bitter maritime dispute between China and the Philippines, in particular.
Among the other issues expected to have been raised in the talks between Kerry and Wang were climate change, cybersecurity and human rights. The secretary of state last visited China in April 2013.
Before coming to Beijing, Kerry visited Seoul, where he held talks with President Park Geun Hye and his counterpart Yun Byung Se. After China, he is scheduled to travel to Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates as part of a four-nation tour.
Kerry will not visit Japan while in Asia, but held talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington last Friday.