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Chinese President Xi Jinping returned home late Saturday after a successful trip to the US, where he met with President Donald Trump.
The White House quoted Trump as saying that the two countries had “made tremendous progress in our relationship”.
Although the trip came as Washington made a major foreign policy shift and launched cruise missiles at Syrian targets, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the talks were constructive and would set the pace for future Sino-American relations.
On Friday, after Trump and Xi met, Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN, said military actions will only worsen the suffering of the Syrian people and make the situation in Syria and the region more complicated and turbulent.
“This is not in the common interest of Syria, regional countries and the international community,” Liu said, adding that diplomatic efforts are the best channel for resolving the Syrian conflict.
Despite what some see as softened criticism of the US attack on a Syrian airbase, Trump described his personal relationship with Xi as “outstanding”.
The two presidents had never met but had spoken on the phone a number of times since Trump won the November election.
For his part, Xi told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that he gained a better understanding of the US president and that the two had cemented their “mutual trust, [and] reached many major consensuses”.
Trump, who had criticized the One China policy in December and accused Beijing of unfair trade practices, had earlier in the week Tweeted that the talks would be difficult.
On Saturday, following spending many hours with Xi at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump Tweeted that the summit had produced “tremendous goodwill and frienship”.
Strolling on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago, the two leaders appeared to be old school friends – not adversaries – reunited.
“We will be making additional progress. The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding,” Trump told reporters.
“And, more importantly, we have further built up understanding and establish a kind of trust, and we have initially built up a working relationship and friendship,” Xi said.
The two countries did not announce any major deal or a joint initiative but White House officials said that there are shared economic interests and that China wants to tackle the $347 billion trade deficit with the US.
Although few details were released about the trade talks – between the two presidents and by extension their respective details – the White House did say that China and the US had agreed to an “action plan” to tackle trade issues and conflicts.
But there was little indication as to how the two new friends got along over contentious issues such as China’s use of the South China Sea and the North Korean crisis.
Administration officials have admitted that the North Korean threat is Washington’s greatest national security issue and that it will top the agenda when the two leaders meet.
There was little to show that the two leaders had come to some kind of agreement on North Korea except for the fact that Trump reiterated that Washington would go it alone – much as it did with Syria – on Thursday if China didn’t pursue a more aggressive influence with Pyongyang.
At the conclusion of the talks, Trump accepted an invitation to visit China later this year.
By Firas Al-Atraqchi for the BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies