Biden says Xi Jinping did not turn down meeting offer

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Sep 15, 2021, 09:03 AM(IST)

FILE PHOTO: 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 Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Xi Jinping was reportedly keen on improving atmosphere of the relationship first

US Prsident Joe Biden on Tuesday denied a media report that Chinese President Xi Jinping turned down an offer last week for a face-to-face meeting.

The Financial Times cited multiple people briefed on a 90-minute call between the two leaders last week as saying Xi did not take Biden up on the offer and instead insisted that Washington adopt a less strident tone toward Beijing.

"It's not true," Biden said when asked by reporters if he was disappointed that Xi did not want to meet with him.

Jake Sullivan, Biden's National Security Advisor said earlier on Tuesday that the report was "not an accurate portrayal of the call. Period"

A source who was among those briefed on the call confirmed the report was accurate.

"Xi apparently intimated that the tone and atmosphere of the relationship needed to be improved first," the source told Reuters.

There was no immediate response from Chinese embassy in Washington.

The Financial Times quoted one of its sources as saying Biden had floated the summit as one of several possibilities for follow-on engagement with Xi, and he had not expected an immediate response.

It cited one US official as saying that while Xi did not engage with the idea of a summit, the White House believed that was partly due to concerns about COVID-19.

The G20 summit in Italy in October has been talked about as a possible venue for a face-to-face meeting, but Xi has not left China since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year.

In his statement, Sullivan added: "As we’ve said, the Presidents discussed the importance of being able to have private discussions between the two leaders, and we’re going to respect that."

The call between Biden and Xi was their first in seven months and they discussed the need to ensure that competition between the world's two largest economies does not veer into conflict.

(With inputs from agencies)

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