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Biden hails ‘real progress’ as Xi summit ends with garden walk

by Agence France Presse

WOODSIDE, United States: US President Joe Biden hailed “real progress” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday as the two leaders wrapped up talks to ease tensions with a stroll in the gardens of a California retreat.

Biden said the four-hour talks had gone “well” and gave a double thumbs up, while he and Xi both waved at reporters as they walked side-by-side in the grounds of the scenic Filoli country estate near San Francisco.

Meeting for the first time in a year, the leaders of the world’s largest economies had earlier shared a handshake and a smile on arrival before holding talks on key stress points such as Taiwan, trade wars and sanctions.

“We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict,” Biden told Xi across a long wooden table as their delegations sat down for talks.

Xi responded by saying that “Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed.”

Biden was due to give a press conference at 4:15 pm (0015 GMT Thursday).

After the initial session of talks and a working lunch of herbed ricotta ravioli and tarragon chicken with gold rice pilaf, Biden posted a brief update on X, formerly Twitter.

“I value the conversation I had today with President Xi because I think it’s paramount that we understand each other clearly, leader to leader,” Biden said.

“There are critical global challenges that demand our joint leadership. And today, we made real progress.”

‘Conflict and confrontation’

Biden and Xi had not met in person since they held talks in Bali in November 2022, and relations nosedived after the United States shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon in February this year.

Since then, Beijing and Washington have been engaged in intense diplomacy to get the two leaders face to face.

The hotly anticipated summit was expected to produce deals on resuming military to military contacts and cooperating to reduce the flow of the drug fentanyl to the United States.

But both leaders were clear the real focus is on cooling the tensions that have emerged against a backdrop of a long struggle for global primacy between the United States and an increasingly assertive China.

Their meeting at the Filoli estate, where the 1980s TV soap opera “Dynasty” was filmed, began with Biden sharing a smile and a handshake with Xi on a red carpet after the Chinese president stepped from a black limousine.

The pair shook hands again for the cameras on the steps of the brick mansion, before heading inside for painstakingly choreographed, closed-door talks in a frescoed ballroom.

“We’ve known each other for a long time. We haven’t always agreed, which is not a surprise to anyone, but our meetings have always been candid and straightforward and useful,” Biden said in his opening remarks.

Biden added that they would discuss global challenges including climate change and artificial intelligence.

Taiwan tensions

Xi responded that “conflict and confrontation has unbearable consequences for both sides.”

“For two large countries like China and United States, turning their back on each other is not an option,” he said.

Neither leader in their opening remarks mentioned the elephant in the room — the issue of Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy over which Beijing claims sovereignty and which it has not ruled out seizing by force.

Biden was expected to tell Xi that the United States will stick to its “One China” policy that emphasizes it does not support Taiwanese independence, but that it will continue to give Taiwan military aid, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Russia, a partner of China in what Washington sees as a growing authoritarian alliance, welcomed the meeting, with the Kremlin calling the talks “important for everyone.”

For his part Xi was expected to push for an end to trade curbs, with the Chinese economy struggling to shore up growth after its tough zero-Covid policy.

The Chinese leader was to host a dinner with US executives after the summit.



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