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CHINA

China, U.S. meet amid trade, military tensions

BEIJING | Senior U.S. and Chinese officials met Monday to steady relations upset by disputes over currency, trade and military affairs, despite calls for a tougher line on Chinese economic policies that some say are contributing to American unemployment.

With congressional elections in two months, President Obama is under pressure to kick-start the economy, and many lawmakers say he should start by addressing China’s lopsided trade surplus and currency policies.

Meanwhile, China’s nationalistic state-controlled media have criticized U.S.-South Korea military exercises in the Yellow Sea and U.S. government statements on South China Sea territorial disputes, saying they represent threats to China’s security.

Chinese officials tried to set a positive tone, emphasizing the need for cooperative relations, at the start of their meetings with National Economic Council Director Lawrence H. Summers and Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon.

Mr. Summers later told Vice Prime Minister Wang Qishan that Mr. Obama “has emphasized for us the importance he attaches to a very strong relationship between the United Sates and China.”

Among the issues on the agenda, Mr. Summers said, is setting up a visit to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

AUSTRIA

Syria said to be stonewalling nuke probe

VIENNA | The U.N. atomic watchdog said Monday it has been unable to make any progress in its two-year investigation into reputed illicit nuclear activities in Syria as Damascus is still refusing to cooperate.

In a restricted five-page report obtained by Agence France-Presse, the International Atomic Energy Agency complained that Syria “has not cooperated with the agency since June 2008 in connection with the unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and the other three locations allegedly functionally related to it.”

“As a consequence, the agency has not been able to make progress towards resolving the outstanding issues related to those sites.”

The United States accuses Syria of building a covert nuclear reactor at the remote desert site of Dair Alzour with the help of North Korea until it was bombed by Israel in September 2007.

U.N. inspectors also detected “significant” traces of man-made uranium at that site, as yet unexplained by Damascus, the report said. It has also requested access to three other locations said to be functionally related to Dair Alzour, but so far to no avail.

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