U.S. lends support to Lithuania against China pressure

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By Andrius Sytas

VILNIUS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Lithuania's foreign minister on Saturday and agreed on "bilateral coordinated action" to help the country withstand pressure from China over its decision to develop ties with Taiwan, Lithuania said.

China on Aug. 10 demanded that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador in Beijing and said it would recall China's envoy to Vilnius in a row over the Baltic state allowing Chinese-claimed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy there using its own name.

Blinken and Gabrielius Landsbergis agreed "China's unilateral aggressive actions and political pressure on Lithuania" were totally unacceptable, a statement on the phone call published by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Sunday said.

The statement did not give any details of the agreed bilateral action.

In a separate statement, the U.S. Department of State said Secretary Blinken "underscored ironclad U.S. solidarity with our NATO ally and EU partner Lithuania in the face of the People's Republic of China's coercive behavior".

China considers democratically ruled Taiwan its sovereign territory. The United States is Taiwan's strongest international backer and main supplier of arms.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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