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Xi, Biden to meet in US next week for first talks in a year

Xi, Biden to meet in US next week for first talks in a year

10 November 2023

Washington (AFP) -

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their first meeting in nearly a year next week on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco, officials from the rival superpowers said Friday.

The meeting will be held Wednesday and the two leaders will discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues as well as ways to 'responsibly manage competition,' White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Xi will travel to San Francisco from November 14-17 for the 'China-US heads of state meeting,' while also confirming for the first time that he plans to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' gathering.

The Xi-Biden summit follows a series of meetings in recent months between high-level officials in Beijing, Washington and elsewhere, but will be the leaders' first encounter since November 2022 in Bali.

Wednesday's meeting will aim to 'stabilize' relations that have since plunged into deep freeze, a senior US official said, cautioning not to expect major outcomes.

Biden and Xi will also discuss pressing global crises such as the Israel-Hamas war and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as well as tensions over the flashpoint island of Taiwan, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

While Biden, 80, and Xi, 70, are both attending the APEC summit in San Francisco, officials would not say whether their meeting would happen in the city itself.

'Our goal will be to try to take steps that indeed stabilize the relationship between the United States and China, remove some areas of misunderstanding and open up new lines of communication,' added the official.

'We are in competition with China, but we do not seek conflict, confrontation or a new Cold War. We're for managing the competition responsibly.'

- 'Nothing held back' -

Washington and an increasingly assertive China have been at odds in recent years with both countries vying for global influence, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Biden and Xi made encouraging noises after the Bali talks but tensions have repeatedly flared since, with the United States protesting earlier this year what it described as a Chinese surveillance balloon over US soil.

China in turn has been outraged by growing US pressure including restrictions on high-tech chips, which Washington fears Beijing will put to military use.

Tensions are particularly high over Taiwan, the self-ruled democracy that Beijing claims and has not ruled out taking by force.

Biden was expected to warn Xi against any attempt to meddle in Taiwan's elections next year and to urge against further military exercises of the kind China staged near Taiwan last year after a visit by members of the US Congress.

'Interference in the Taiwan election is something we're extremely concerned about. And of course, we'll plan on delivering that message again,' a second US official said.

US officials said the Biden-Xi talks would be 'very broad' and that they were 'not talking about a long list of outcomes or deliverables' at the end.

'Nothing will be held back, everything will be on the table,' the first US official said.

But Biden and Xi were expected to discuss the 'absolutely crucial' issue of restoring a US-China military hotline to prevent any escalations between the two countries.

'We expect they'll cover a range of regional and global issues too, such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict,' the second US official said.