Washington: The United States on Friday urged China to stop militarisation of the disputed South China Sea, during high-level talks here. However, China warned US to halt sending ships and military aircraft close to the islands claimed by Beijing.

According to Reuters, during the high-level talks, both countries bluntly aired their main differences, including a bitter trade dispute, freedom of navigation in Asia-Pacific waters, self-ruled Taiwan, and China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

The meeting was attended by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Jim Mattis with Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and defence minister Wei Fenghe.

The talks were due to be held in Beijing last month but were postponed after Washington announced new arms sales to Taiwan.

“We have continued concerns about China's activities and militarisation in the South China Sea,” Pompeo said. “We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area."

“The United States is not pursuing a policy of Cold War containment with China,” Pompeo said.

“Rather we want to ensure that China acts responsibly and fairly in support of security and prosperity of each of our two countries,” he added.

US insisted that it will continue to "fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows".

“The Chinese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop sending its vessels and military aircraft close to Chinese islands and reefs and stop actions that undermine Chinese authority and security interests,” said Jiechi, who also had sharp words over US support for Taiwan.

“Cooperation is the only option for us,” Wei said. “Confrontation and conflict between the two militaries will spell disaster for us all.”

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet at G20 summit in Argentina later this month.

(With inputs from agencies)