WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- U.S. disappointment over how China and Hong Kong handled former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's case was made known to visiting Chinese officials.
Speaking to reporters Thursday following the Fifth U.S-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns discussed the Snowden issue, CNN reported.
"When we encounter differences and sensitive issues, we need to address them directly in consultation with one another," Burns said. "And that is why we were very disappointed with how the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong handled the Snowden case, which undermined our effort to build the trust needed to manage difficult issues."
The United States has reacted strongly ever since Snowden, a fugitive indicted for stealing and leaking classified documents and whose passport has been revoked, was allowed to leave Hong Kong last month for Russia. China has said the U.S. charges over Snowden's departure from Hong Kong are groundless.
The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama also expressed "disappointment and concern" over the Snowden matter when he met the Chinese delegation.
Responding to the U.S. reaction, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, one of the two leaders of the Chinese delegation at the S&ED meeting, defended the Hong Kong government's handling of the Snowden case, saying it was in accordance with law and "its approach is beyond reproach," CNN said.
CNN said U.S. lawmakers have warned any country that shelters Snowden could face economic sanctions.