Published: Wed, April 12, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Trump, Xi meet again - in shadow of missile strikes on Syria

Trump, Xi meet again - in shadow of missile strikes on Syria

President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping have made "tremendous progress" in their discussions on the U.S.

That message may have been underscored by the US missile attack on Syria that took place as the two leaders had dinner. North Korea has repeatedly tested nuclear weapons in recent years, a move that the USA strongly opposes.

"We would be happy to work with them", he said. "He's telling the Chinese that, 'Listen, the North Koreans are trying to weaponize intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the rhetoric is they will use them against my country and my people. That's the first time I'd heard them say that".

For Xi, who is entering a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in the fall, the meeting with Trump was more about stabilizing the critical U.S. He refers to the meeting between Xi and then-President Barack Obama in 2013 that took place in the lush estate of Sunnylands in Southern California. Just before the strikes, Trump and Xi, together with their first ladies and assorted sons-in-law, were smiling chummily in the Mar-a-Lago dining room.

Tensions between the leaders of the world's two largest economies spiked following Trump's shock election last November with many predicting a dramatic downturn in relations.

Heading into the first talks between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, North Korea was the front-and-center security issue on the table.

"The two sides agreed to undertake an ambitious agenda and meeting schedule to show progress and demonstrate meaningful results", he said.

"In the past 40 years, the United States and China have developed deep ties, and this administration is committed to ensuring these ties endure for the next 40 years".

JOHN YANG: Today, Mr. Trump said he's looking forward to frequent meetings with President Xi.

The two leaders also discussed the situations in North Korea and Syria on Thursday and Friday. They remarked generally about "progress" in their relationship and optimism about the future.

The two leaders also agreed that their first meeting, held at the seaside Mar-a-Lago resort in the U.S. state of Florida, was "positive and fruitful". "I think what you are going to see is that the president makes very clear to Xi and publicly what we expect on trade", a USA official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Xi thanked Trump for his hospitality and said the meeting had served the goal of advancing the U.S.

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Beijing has countered U.S., claims saying it has imposed United Nations ordered sanctions against Pyongyang, including suspending all coal imports from the country.

Xi, 63, said that he and Trump, 70, have gained better understanding of each other, cemented their mutual trust, scored many major consensuses, and built up a good working relationship. The Chinese leader, as well as the delegation, has decided not to stay at the resort overnight. Trump also accepted Xi's invitation to make a state visit to China later this year.

Another matter that didn't come up was the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co.'s nuclear reactor business.

The timing of the US action against the Syrian government could be taken as message to the Chinese - and the North Koreans - about the Trump administration's willingness to use military power. "If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don't, it won't be good for anyone". Some experts believe that the US president should not play the friendship card with China.

Trump has repeatedly placed blame on China - which provides crucial economic support to Kim Jong-Un's regime - saying that Xi can curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions but has refused.

In an effort to make gains for U.S. manufacturing workers, Trump may use the summit to push for more Chinese investment in American infrastructure. "That's one of the things we are going to be talking about", Trump said before the meeting.

Xi and his wife did not stay at Mar-a-Lago, but at a resort a short drive down the palm-fringed coast that was watched by marksmen, tactical units and a coastguard cutter.

Trump has long said North Korea is China's problem to fix, criticizing Beijing for refusing to use its influence over Pyongyang.

What separates these threats from North Korea's usual chest-beating is the recent unveiling of images from watchdog site 38 North indicating increased excavation activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which could mean a sixth nuclear test is forthcoming.

Xi agreed to increase China's cooperation with the U.S. to pressure North Korea to end their nuclear program, Tillerson said.

"I don't believe there was any immediate nexus, " White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Friday.

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