The United States and China agreed Friday to work towards setting up a meeting between the two countries' leaders next month, after President Joe Biden met Beijing's top diplomat at the White House.
Biden has invited Xi Jinping to San Francisco in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at a time of tense relations between the two powers. Xi has not yet confirmed he will come.
After Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Biden and other senior US officials in Washington, the White House said both countries had agreed to keep up "high-level diplomacy" to try to smooth ties.
The two sides "reaffirmed" that they were "working together towards a meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November," the White House said in a statement.
A senior administration official said the White House was leaving it to Beijing to confirm that Xi would come, but "we are making preparations for just such a meeting."
An official readout of talks between Wang and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan released by Beijing confirmed "both sides agreed to make joint efforts to realize a meeting between the two heads of state."
In a separate readout of his meeting with Biden, Wang was quoted as saying his visit was aimed at "working to stop the decline in China-US relations, stabilize them, and bring them back to the track of sound and steady development."
Biden told Wang that Washington and Beijing must "manage competition in the relationship responsibly and maintain open lines of communication," according to the White House.
With the Israel-Hamas conflict raging in the Middle East, Biden also "underscored that the United States and China must work together to address global challenges," it added in a statement.
US officials had "expressed our deep concern with the situation (in the Middle East) and pressed China to take a more constructive approach," including talking to its allies there, the senior administration official added.
Wang has been on a two-day visit to Washington during which he also met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the latest in a series of high-level contacts between the United States and China.
His meeting with Biden had been expected after Blinken met Xi in Beijing in June, but it had not previously been confirmed.
After meeting with Blinken on Thursday, Wang acknowledged that differences would still come up, but said China would respond "calmly."
Biden and Xi have had no contact since a meeting in Bali in November 2022.
Relations have been tense for years between the world's top two economies as they vie for influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and as Beijing boosts cooperation with Russia in a bid to reduce US dominance.
A particular point of contention has been Taiwan, the self-ruling democracy claimed by Beijing.
"The biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is 'Taiwan independence', and the biggest challenge to China-US relations is also 'Taiwan independence', which must be resolutely opposed," Wang said in the readout of his meeting with Sullivan.
In his meeting with Biden, he also stressed the centrality of the "One-China principle" to US-China ties, according to the foreign ministry readout.
The United States and China have also traded barbs over the conflict in the Middle East, where Biden has been Israel's foremost ally.
US officials have repeatedly spoken of creating "guardrails" with China to prevent worst-case scenarios and have sought, without success, to restore contact between the two militaries.
Biden on Wednesday warned China of US treaty obligations to the Philippines, which said that Chinese vessels deliberately hit Manila's boats in dispute-rife waters -- an account contested by Beijing.
Speaking alongside Australia's prime minister, a key Asia-Pacific ally, Biden vowed to compete with China "every way according to the international rules -- economically, politically, in other ways. But I'm not looking for conflict." (AFP-Yonhap)