After hosting Xi, Trump to visit China this year

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Washington, April 8 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has accepted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit Beijing, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump hosted the Chinese President for a two-day visit at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, the BBC reported on Saturday.

Last year Trump said China had “raped the US” and vowed to brand the superpower a currency manipulator.

But the meeting appeared to be diplomatic, with both leaders agreeing to a new format for US-China talks.

Tillerson said President Trump’s trip to China would be a “state visit” in 2017, but gave no other details.

“Both the atmosphere and the chemistry between the two leaders was positive… all of us are feeling very good about the results of this summit,” said Tillerson.

The leaders of the world’s two most powerful economies agreed to a 100-day plan to discuss trade talks directed at boosting US exports and reducing Washington’s trade deficit with China, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

“Given the range of issues and the magnitude, that may be ambitious, but it’s a very big sea change in the pace of discussion,” Ross told the media.

“I think that’s a very important symbolisation of the growing rapport between the two countries.”

Trump said that he believed he made “tremendous progress” in the US-China relationship during talks with Xi.

On the night of the Chinese President’s arrival, a US airstrike on an airbase in Syria was launched on Thursday in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Regarding the US airstrike on Syria, Tillerson said that Xi told Trump that he “understood that such a response was necessary when people are killing children”, reported CNN.

Xi expressed “an appreciation” to Trump for informing him of the number of missiles that were launched and explaining the rationale behind the strike, said Tillerson.

The two leaders also agreed on the “urgency of the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme” and agreed to work together to resolve the issue “peacefully”, Tillerson said.

“They agreed to increase cooperation and work with the international community to convince the (North Korea) to peacefully resolve the issue and abandon its illicit weapons programmes.”

Discussions between Trump and Xi over North Korea came days after Trump warned that the US was prepared to act unilaterally to stop the regime’s nuclear programme from advancing further should China be unwilling to use its leverage with Pyongyang.

The White House said Trump also stressed to Xi the importance of creating “reciprocal market access” that did not disadvantage American workers.

Trump repeatedly bashed China on the campaign trail and upon taking office, blaming it for the loss of American jobs, reported Politico news.

Trump urged China to take steps to “level the playing field for American workers”, according to the White House statement.

“President Trump noted the challenges caused by Chinese government intervention in its economy and raised serious concerns about the impact of China’s industrial, agricultural, technology and cyber policies on US jobs and exports,” it said.

Xi and Trump also discussed China’s increased militarisation in the South China Sea, with President Trump urging the Chinese to adhere to international norms.

–IANS

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