Trump Lauds 'Outstanding' Relationship With Chinese Leader During Summit | NBC Southern California
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Trump Lauds 'Outstanding' Relationship With Chinese Leader During Summit

Trump has reportedly already accepted the Chinese leader's invitation to visit later this year

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    President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

    (Published Friday, April 7, 2017)

    U.S. and China have agreed to increase cooperation on trying to get North Korea's to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Friday after President Donald Trump's two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.

    Tillerson said the two leaders noted the urgency of the threat of North Korea's weapons program. They reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearization of the divided Korean Peninsula.

    On trade issues, Trump also called for China to "level the playing field" for American workers, stressing the need for reciprocal market access.

    Trump also noted the importance of protecting human rights, and asked China to adhere to international norms in the seas of East Asia.

    President Donald Trump said it's been "very interesting" to spend time with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation as they visit Trump's estate in Florida Friday.

    Trump said in brief remarks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago that he and Xi made "tremendous progress" over dinner Thursday, and he predicted that even more progress will be made before Xi departs later Friday.

    He called their relationship "outstanding." Xi said a few words afterward in Chinese, but no translator was present. Trump jokingly said he agrees with whatever Xi said.

    Their first-night summit dinner wrapped up shortly before the U.S. announced the missile barrage on an air base in Syria in retaliation against Syrian President Bashar Assad for a chemical weapons attack against civilians caught up in his country's long civil war.

    Before Thursday's night's dinner with their wives, Trump said he and Xi already had had a long discussion and had "developed a friendship," and then joked, "I have gotten nothing, absolutely nothing."

    Xi apparently got something out of dinner, though. Chinese state media reported late Thursday that Trump has accepted Xi's invitation to visit China this year. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Trump will travel to China at an "early date" in 2017, but gave no details.

    The White House downplayed expectations for a breakthrough on issues like trade and tariffs, insisting that the 24-hour summit is mostly an introductory meeting for the two leaders. Within Trump's administration, divisions remain over how to approach China.

    Still, North Korea was a top priority for Trump in the meetings with Xi. The American president told reporters traveling with him to Florida that he thinks China will "want to be stepping up" in trying to deter North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

    While Trump would not say what he wants China to do specifically, he suggested there was a link between "terrible" trade agreements the U.S. has made with China and Pyongyang's provocations. He said the two issues "really do mix."

    Trump has said the U.S. will act alone if China doesn't exert more pressure on North Korea. The missile strikes on Syria bring more weight to that statement.

    Both as a candidate and president, Trump has taken an aggressive posture toward China, labeling Beijing a "tremendous problem" and arguing that lopsided trade deals with China shortchange American businesses and workers. Last week, the president predicted in a tweet that his meeting with Xi would be "very difficult."

    He also last week signed a pair of executive orders focused on reducing the U.S. trade deficit, an apparent shot at China, which accounted for the vast bulk — $347 billion — of last year's $502 billion trade deficit.

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    Protesters and supporters gather for the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Palm Beach, while one protester is taken into custody.

    (Published Thursday, April 6, 2017)

    For his part, Xi was expected to seek assurances that Trump will not interfere in the territorial dispute over the South China Sea or question the "One China" policy by reaching out to Taiwan's leader again, as Trump did during the transition.