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US Secret Service denies Chinese tried to block nuclear-info briefcase

WASHINGTON: The United States Secret Service denied reports yesterday that one of its agents and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wrestled with Chinese security officials over the "nuclear football" during President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing last November.

Chinese security officials blocked the US military aide carrying the briefcase that carries the procedures and communications equipment that allow the US leader to launch nuclear missiles as the official entered the Great Hall of the People, according to the Axios news website.

A commotion then ensued as Mr Kelly got all the US officials accompanying the president to move towards the site of the "nuclear football", Axios said, citing five unnamed sources familiar with the events.

A Chinese security official "grabbed" Mr Kelly, who "shoved" the man's hand off his body, according to Axios, which said a US Secret Service agent then tackled the Chinese official to the ground.

The Secret Service denied the website's characterisation of the events.

But the presidential law enforcement agency provided details about the incident.

"An individual, not part of the official delegation, attempted to prevent one of our protectees from entering a room," it said.

"A US Secret Service agent quickly intervened and a short scuffle ensued."

However, the Secret Service added, "the individual complied with the agent's directions and no further action was necessary. At no time did anyone involved fall to the ground." - AFP

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