WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and Chinese officials on Wednesday agreed during high-level talks in Washington to work together to end the "massacre" of wildlife and reduce the flow of illegal wildlife trafficking, a senior U.S. official said.
The talks are significant because the United States and China are among the largest markets for wildlife trafficking and the illegal trade contributes nearly $10 billion in profits for criminal organizations annually, according to the U.S. State Department.
"This is a real massacre, it's a tragedy … It's not just elephants; there are many other endangered species," said Catherine Novelli, U.S. under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment.
Novelli said the dialogue would lead to closer cooperation between the two countries and increase the level of communication "so that we can really be partners on virtually a daily bases."
She said the dialogue, for the first time, had included the issue of marine trafficking, including the protection the Totoaba, a fish in the Gulf of California, and sea turtles.
Zhao Shucong, China’s state forestry administration minister, said China would work with the United States and other countries to come up with a "better international cooperation mechanism to deter wildlife trafficking and illegal trade."
Prior to the event, the two officials were shown illegal wildlife that had been seized.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Toni Reinhold)