The counterterrorism talks Clinton announced on Thursday will be the first institutionalised discussion between the US and China, which already hold regular talks on political and economic issues.

Continuing dialogue

Clinton cited the nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran, climate change, non-proliferation, pandemic diseases and poverty reduction as possible areas for greater co-operation.

"We must seek to talk honestly and openly, even when agreement is not possible"

Hillary Clinton,
US secretary of state

The secretary of state steered clear of US complaints on Chinese trade and human rights practices - a sensitive topic for Beijing - focusing instead on the need for better communication and trust between the sometime rivals.

She did note, however, that the US and China had "a very frank discussion" about human rights during talks in July which focused on bilateral, regional and global challenges on economic and foreign policy issues, as well as climate change.

Admitting that the US and China "will not see to eye to eye on every issue" she said both sides were committed to try to make the dialogue work.

"We have different histories, different experiences, different perspectives but we must seek to talk honestly and openly, even when agreement is not possible," Clinton said, adding that the Obama administration sees building a strong relationship with China as a central goal.

Barack Obama, the US president, is expected to make his first presidential visit to China in November.