Two sides seek top-level talks Beijing and Washington will look at holding regular cabinet-level talks on energy after leaders agreed to upgrade co-operation in the area, diplomatic sources have revealed. Energy policy and setting up a mechanism for Sino-US consultations on energy would be high on the agenda of this week's second round of the Strategic Economic Dialogue meetings between top negotiators from both nations, along with trade and currency issues, the sources said In a recent telephone conversation, President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart, George W. Bush, agreed to upgrade co-operation on energy policy and energy-related environmental protection. Under the Strategic Economic Dialogue, Beijing and Washington will hold regular discussions on a range of issues of mutual concern, such as trade, currency, market opening, intellectual property rights and energy co-operation. The first round was held in Beijing in December and the second will be held in Washington tomorrow and on Wednesday. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will head the US team, while the Chinese side will be led by Vice-Premier Wu Yi , who will meet Mr Bush and some US members of congress. In previous talks, negotiators agreed in principle to work towards boosting co-operation in order to implement a comprehensive, mutually beneficial Sino-US energy policy. Currently, an energy working group has been set up under the strategic dialogue. But the presidents agreed to look at ways to step up co-operation and upgrade talks to cabinet level. This was in response to concerns over climate change, China's increasing demand for new US energy technologies, and the importance of preventing tension between the world's two largest energy importers. Chinese diplomats said increased co-operation would also open a huge new market for US exporters, helping to narrow the trade gap between the two economies and avoid debilitating energy supply shocks. 'This is the most prominent topic when talking about security concerns or mutual economic interests,' said Jin Canrong , vice-dean of Renmin University's School of International Relations. Negotiators would also look at other topics such as strengthening energy security, boosting the role of energy market mechanisms, and promoting international co-operation in the development of clean-energy technologies, the sources said. 'Beijing also hopes that closer co-operation will put a stop to the US Congress' hostile energy diplomacy toward China that has been seen since the Unocal takeover bid,' Professor Jin said. In 2005, state-owned CNOOC was forced to drop a US$18.5 billion bid for the US energy firm due to heavy opposition from US lawmakers. A mainland energy official said that in the initial stages of Sino-US energy co-operation, the US would likely focus on helping China raise its energy efficiency and develop alternative energy sources. Mr Hu raised expectations for the bilateral summit by telling Mr Bush the meeting 'should be able to achieve positive results'. Both the Bush administration and the Chinese leadership are counting on the talks to defuse congressional pressure for Beijing to allow a faster appreciation of the yuan.