Biden, XI Jinping hold talks via video link

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping stressed their responsibility to the rest of the world to avoid conflict as the heads of the two top global economies opened their closely watched talks.

Calling Biden an “old friend,” Xi said the two sides must increase communication and cooperation to solve the many challenges they face. Biden promised to address areas of concern, including human rights and other issues in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Maybe I should start more formally, although you and I have never been that formal with one another,” Biden said from a conference table in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, smiling broadly as the Chinese president appeared on a large screen in the room. “You and I have talked about this – all countries have to play by the same rules of the road.”

The U.S-China bilateral relationship “seems to me to have a profound impact not only in our countries, but quite frankly the rest of the world,” Biden said.

Xi, speaking through an interpreter, said: “As the world’s two largest economies and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation.”

The talks, which were initiated by Biden and began shortly after 7:45 p.m. on Monday (0045 GMT Tuesday), were intended to make the relationship less acrimonious.

The early moments of the two leaders’ dialogue was observed by a small group of reporters before the heads of state and top aides spoke privately in a meeting U.S. officials expected to stretch for several hours.

The United States and China disagree on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and competition rules, Beijing’s expanding nuclear arsenal and its stepped-up pressure on Taiwan, among other issues.