WASHINGTON- There is no meeting planned between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a G20 gathering in Italy next week, a State Department official said on Wednesday, after the Financial Times reported that Beijing and Washington were discussing such a meeting.
The newspaper, citing people briefed on the talks, said U.S. President Joe Biden's administration had also informed counterparts in Beijing that it would like Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state, to visit China over the summer.
The White House had also held preliminary internal discussions about sending Blinken or Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, to China later this year, which could set the stage for Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to hold a bilateral summit on the margins of the G20 leaders meeting in Rome in October, the British newspaper reported.
"There is no meeting planned between Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Wang at the upcoming G20 Ministerial," a State Department official said in response to a query about the report, while not commenting on the other details.
Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States who was cited by the Financial Times, said she had heard from sources that after a Blinken-Wang Yi meeting there might be a phone call between Biden and Xi and then a visit by a State Department official to China over the summer.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wang and Blinken have not met since they and other officials were involved in fiery exchanges in Alaska in March during the Biden administration's first high-level meeting with its Chinese counterparts.
Blinken held a call with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi earlier this month and stressed the need for cooperation and transparency over the origins of COVID-19 and raised other contentious topics, including China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
U.S.-China relations deteriorated sharply under then-U.S. President Donald Trump, and the Biden administration has maintained his tough approach, while stressing its interest in cooperation on areas of shared concern like climate change.
China this month denounced a joint statement by the Group of Seven leaders led by Washington that scolded Beijing over a range of issues as a gross interference in the country's internal affairs.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Jonathan Oatis) ((Kanishka.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; +91 8061822801;))