US, China leaders hail progress after first meeting

The meeting was overshadowed by the United States missile strike in Syria, which was announced shortly after the two leaders finished dinner on Thursday.

The Secretary of State said the U.S was hopeful that China would "find ways to exercise influence over North Korea's actions to dismantle their nuclear weapons and their missile technology programs".

Ahead of the talks, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration would push for fair trade with China, and the interests of American workers were paramount for the President.

During the meeting at Trump's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, the leaders of the world's two largest economies agreed to craft a "100-day plan" as part of efforts to increase US exports to China and address Washington's massive trade deficit with Beijing, Ross said.

Trump said he sufficiently emphasized to Xi the importance of South Korea and the Seoul-Washington alliance, the office said. "And I think that's a very, very important symbolisation of the growing rapport between the two countries", he said.

"And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away", he added, without providing details.

Trump did not explain what differences had been narrowed between the two countries.

Xi also spoke in positive but vague terms, saying: "We have engaged in deeper understanding, and have built a trust - a preliminary working relationship and friendship".

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon). President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together after their meetings at Mar-a-Lago, Friday, April 7, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla.

Since he was on the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly criticized what he sees as China's unfair trade practices and its reluctance to exercise its economic leverage over North Korea to curtail Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

"What Trump supporters had always said was that Trump was much more of a heavyweight once you gave him time, that he had a plan, that there was a method to this madness", observes Stone Fish, "and it's certainly possible that Xi is starting to subscribe to that theory".

For Xi, who is entering a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in the fall, the meeting with Trump was more about stabilizing the critical U.S.

Tillerson said Trump had accepted Xi's invitation to visit China and that they also agreed to upgrade a U.S. "That's the first time I've heard them say that in a bilateral context".

However, after meetings on Thursday, Trump announced he had ordered missile strikes against Syria - placing Xi in a somewhat precarious position. In an editorial, the paper said Trump launched the strike "to establish his authority as the US president".

But the surprise USA military response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians threw a wild card into the summit.

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 Russian Federation of Trump's willingness to use military force.

Tillerson said Xi agreed with Trump that North Korea's nuclear advances had reached a "very serious stage".

He said Trump also raised U.S.concerns about China's activities in the South China Sea.

  • Zachary Reyes