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WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will speak Friday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about issues including Russia's war in Ukraine, the White House said.

Beijing has refused to condemn its close ally Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, while blaming the United States and NATO's eastward expansion for worsening tensions.

"The two leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia's war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern," the White House said in a statement.

China is under intense diplomatic pressure from the United States and its European allies to pull its lifeline from an isolated Russia. But three weeks after the invasion of Ukraine, Beijing has shown few signs of abandoning its friends in the Kremlin.

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US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Communist Party's chief diplomat, met in a Rome hotel this week for what a White House readout described as a "substantial" session.

The United States later expressed concern about what it called "alignment" between Russia and China.

Moscow and Beijing have drawn closer in what Washington sees as an increasingly hostile alliance of the authoritarian nuclear powers.

The US-China discussions in Rome aimed to test the depth of China's commitment to Russia as it struggles to vanquish Ukraine, with images of bomb-scarred buildings and refugees fleeing in their millions horrifying the world.

Since the war erupted, China has refused to condemn Putin's actions -- or even describe the invasion as a war.

Instead, as recently as last week Beijing called the partnership between the two countries "rock-solid."

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