Biden, Xi kick off virtual meeting with calls to increase communication

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Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013.

Lintao Zhang | Reuters

BEIJING — U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off a virtual meeting on Tuesday with a positive tone and cordial remarks.

Biden said he hoped to meet face-to-face sometime and that he looked forward to a candid conversation. He said the leaders’ responsibility was to lay out where they disagreed and how they could work together toward climate goals.

Xi said it would be better to meet in person, and called for increased communication.

The video call is the closest communication between the countries’ two leaders since Biden took office in January. Tensions between the two nations had escalated under former U.S. President Donald Trump, beginning with trade and tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods.

However, a senior Biden administration official told reporters ahead of the call that tariffs would not likely be on the agenda. The meeting is about U.S. efforts to manage competition with China, not about particular goals or an outcome, the official said.

The high-level meeting is important for ensuring the competition does not lead to conflict, the official said.

Controversy over Taiwan is a point of tension between China and the U.S. Beijing considers the island, which operates its own democratic government, part of the Beijing-based government’s territory.



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