Trump and Xi Skirt North Korea Divide in 'Excellent' Meeting
EghtesadOnline: The heads of the world’s two largest economies brushed over differences on North Korea and trade as they met in person for the second time.
The unlikely diplomatic friendship of President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping seemed to hold firm as the pair met Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings in Hamburg.
Heading into the meeting, Trump told Xi it was “an honor” to have gotten to know him, and that he “appreciated the things” China’s leader had done on North Korea, according to Bloomberg.
Trump later included Xi in a series of buoyant tweets sent from Air Force One on the return flight to Washington. “Just left China’s President Xi where we had an excellent meeting on trade & North Korea,” he wrote. U.S. and Chinese officials suggested they were satisfied with the meeting, which ran for about 90 minutes.
Details of the meeting so far suggest that despite substantial disagreements on policy, the two leaders managed to get along. While Trump has recently signaled frustrations with China, he doesn’t appear to have given up on the relationship.
Xi told Trump he believed U.S.-China ties had strengthened since their first meeting, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, in April, according to a readout provided by China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
In exchange for China’s help with its irksome neighbor North Korea, Trump initially backed off threats made during his presidential campaign to declare China a currency manipulator. But his tweets before the meeting suggested that he was losing patience.
“So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!” Trump said in on Twitter on July 5. That followed a June 20 missive that “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out.”
Diplomatic sources reported that Trump scowled and sat with his arms folded as Xi spoke over lunch during G-20 meetings on Friday.
In the event, though, the talks were cast as having gone well despite both sides stating their positions firmly. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin described the meeting as having been “very substantive,” and lauded the “warmness, the openness” between the pair. The discussions included the issue of financing North Korea and ways of dealing together with Pyongyang, he said.
“President Trump made very clear to President Xi that he’s focused on these issues and wants to make progress, and I think President Xi gave a very interesting perspective of their standpoint,” Mnuchin said.
Xi told Trump that China had already stated its “principled position” on North Korea multiple times, according to the Chinese readout. China’s leader told Trump that even when responding to violations of UN Security Council resolutions, it was important to encourage dialog. He also reiterated China’s opposition to the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) shield in South Korea.
Despite Trump’s efforts to pressure China ahead of the meeting, Chinese officials privately insisted that Trump’s regular tweets were just bargaining tactics.
Given Trump’s harsh campaign rhetoric against China, he and Xi established a surprisingly friendly relationship after their first meeting, less than three months after the American’s inauguration.
Since then, dialogue between the two countries has been extensive. Trump and Xi have talked by the phone several times, while Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been talking with Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the U.S. Bloomberg reported in June that China had invited Trump’s daughter Ivanka to visit this year together with husband Kushner. Trump has committed to visiting China before the end of the year.