RANCHO MIRAGE, California: Barack Obama and Xi Jinping ended their first US-China summit on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), forging a rapport and policy understandings, if not breakthroughs, on North Korea, climate and cyber issues.
The presidents spent eight hours together over two days, in intimate groups with staff, over a dinner of lobster and steak, and strolling through the lush gardens of a California desert oasis, in a casual departure for Sino-US ties.
It was the first US-China summit since Xi, 59, assumed full power in March and Obama, architect of a rebalancing of US diplomacy towards Asia viewed with suspicion in Beijing, embarked on his second term.
Both sides wanted to loosen the formality of US-China talks—and appeared to succeed: at one point Obama and Xi, finding common ground as politicians, sketched respective visions for where they hoped to take their nations.
By the time Xi left on Saturday, US officials said, the two men had talked bluntly about a new flashpoint, cybersecurity, chided North Korea’s nuclear grandstanding and agreed a new joint push on climate change.
US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said the talks were “uniquely informal,” “constructive,” “wide-ranging” and “positive” for a vital great power relationship which is often prickly and requires constant maintenance.
Chinese state counsellor Yang Jiechi said the leaders did not “shy away from differences,” including US arms sales to Taiwan and Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.