(Reuters) -China has rejected a request by the United States for a meeting between their defense chiefs on the sidelines of an annual security forum in Singapore this coming weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

“Overnight, the PRC informed the U.S. that they have declined our early May invitation for Secretary (Lloyd) Austin to meet with PRC Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu in Singapore this week,” the Pentagon said in a statement to the Journal, adding the department believes in open communication “to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict.”

Last week, White House spokesman John Kirby said there were discussions by the Defense Department to get a conversation going between Lloyd and his Chinese counterpart.

Kirby also said there was the possibility of a meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and her Chinese counterpart during the Asia-Pacific-Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Detroit.

(Reporting by Urvi Dugar in BengaluruEditing by Chris Reese and Deepa Babington)



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