Beijing: US President Barack Obama`s key national security aide and China`s top foreign policy official hinted at tensions that divide them on Friday ahead of a state visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Meeting in Beijing, Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi and US national security adviser Susan Rice said the two countries were cooperating in areas including climate change and military relations.
"At the same time we`ve been able to discuss frankly our differences, we both acknowledge their need to be addressed effectively," Rice told Yang at the start of their talks and ahead of a meeting later with Xi.
She called his visit to the US due next month "a milestone in our opportunity to strengthen and deepen our cooperation and work together to constructively manage differences".
Yang said the two countries will stay in close communication on subjects including "the Iran and North Korean nuclear issues" and climate change, along with questions of "regional rights and interests".
That could refer to the South China Sea and East China Sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with its Southeast Asian neighbours and US treaty ally Japan respectively.
The US and China, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, participated in negotiations that secured a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
Beijing and Washington have also worked together as members of the six-party talks on North Korea`s nuclear programme, which also take in Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow and Pyongyang.
That forum has been essentially dormant for years though China, which serves as host, supports its revival.
Rice also met with Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of the Communist Party`s powerful Central Military Commission, which is chaired by Xi.
The US envoy said Washington was "deeply committed to building a healthy, stable, reliable military-to-military relationship with China" and stressed an agreement last year to "reduce the risk of unintended consequences" in encounters.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has recently carried out major land reclamation in the area that analysts say will extend its military reach with the construction of bases and runways.
Beijing says the efforts have no aggressive intent and are meant to largely foster maritime safety in the waters, a major global trade artery which Washington says it is committed to keeping open to unhindered navigation.
Rice`s visit comes as China prepares to hold a massive military parade next week to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II, though the US, as well as major Western countries, will not be sending top officials to participate.