'Problems will be going away' - Trump after meeting Chinese President Xi

  • 08/04/2017
Donald Trump and Xi Jinping (Reuters)
Donald Trump and Xi Jinping (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump says he's made progress in talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and expects them to overcome many problems, a marked contrast to his stridently anti-China election campaign.

Sitting across from Mr Xi on the second day of a Florida summit overshadowed by US missile strikes in Syria overnight, Mr Trump declared on Friday that his relationship with the Chinese leader was outstanding after they discussed trade irritants and concerns about North Korea's nuclear program.

Mr Trump had said he intended to raise concerns about China's trade practices and press Mr Xi to do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions during his visit to the Spanish-style Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, though no major deals on either issue are expected.

The Republican president tweeted last week that the United States could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses and that his meeting with Mr Xi "will be a very difficult one".

On Friday, there was a change of tone.

"We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China," Mr Trump said as the two delegations met around tables flanked by large US and Chinese flags.

"And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away," he added.

The swift action in Syria could be interpreted as a signal especially to defiant nuclear-armed North Korea - and by extension, its ally China - as well as other countries like Iran and Russia of Trump's willingness to use military force if deemed necessary.

US security concerns with China also focus on Beijing's expansive territorial claims in the strategic South China Sea.

A senior administration official said Mr Trump informed Mr Xi about the strikes as their dinner concluded on Thursday night. Mr Trump then made a televised statement on the operation he said he ordered in retaliation for the poison gas attack, which killed scores of people, including children, in a rebel-held area on Tuesday.

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry urged all parties in Syria to find a political settlement.

Mr Trump and Mr Xi, politicians with distinctly different styles and experience levels, appeared cordial and businesslike.

The protocol-conscious Chinese earlier had privately expressed concerns that the unpredictable Mr Trump might publicly embarrass the veteran Communist Party chief.