The forthcoming summit between President Jiang Zemin and his US counterpart Bill Clinton is expected to dominate talks today between Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. It will be the first meeting of the two since the handover. US diplomats said both sides would be wanting to ensure relatively smooth ties in the run-up to the October meeting in Washington. 'The radar screens have been surprisingly quiet over the past few weeks. The handover is through and no major problem has emerged to cause tensions to rise,' one US diplomat said. 'With the big meeting coming up, both sides will be keen to ensure that remains.' Ms Albright will restate Washington's desire for essential Hong Kong freedoms to remain and push its human rights concerns, but officials are stressing that 'sticking points' would not be allowed to mar the session. 'This one should be reasonably warm . . . too much is at stake as the final plans are being put in place for the talks,' one diplomatic source said. 'There is still a lot of protocol to be worked through.' In a sign of a warming of ties, both ministers have agreed to stage a joint briefing - a highly unusual move. But Beijing was expected to lodge concerns about a US State Department report accusing China of suppressing Christians, analysts said. The report on Christian persecution worldwide accused China of shutting hundreds of 'house churches' and beating and arresting religious figures. Beijing has refused to accept the criticism, insisting religious freedom is a key part of the constitution. Mr Qian and Ms Albright arrived in the Malaysian capital last night, with the meeting taking place on sidelines of the Asian Regional Forum tomorrow. The fledgling group puts the expanded nine-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations alongside most other Asian-Pacific states, including the US, China, Australia, Japan, Russia and Canada. China's growing military relationship with Burma will get much attention behind the scenes as Rangoon is taking part in the session for the first time after its controversial entry to ASEAN. The relationship is widely seen to have speeded Burma's admission to a grouping increasingly wary of China. Beijing could also face pressure to produce a White Paper on its military in a bid to ease suspicions.