President Donald Trump pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear program and help reduce the gaping US trade deficit with Beijing in talks on Friday, even as he toned down the strident anti-China rhetoric of his election campaign.
Trump's aides insisted he had made good on his pledge to raise concerns about China's trade practices and said there was some headway, with Xi agreeing to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting US exports and reducing China's trade surplus with the United States.
"We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China", Trump told reporters as the two delegations met around tables flanked by large USA and Chinese flags.
In the talks, Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear program and the two agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting United States exports and reducing the gaping United States trade deficit with Beijing.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcConnell: Supreme Court vacancy helped Trump win Trump to Congress: Syria strike was in "vital national security interest" of US Graham to expand Russian Federation sanctions bill to include aiding Assad MORE (R-Ky.), however, said that the president shouldn't have to seek further approval for military action.
During the meetings, Trump highlighted the challenges caused by the Chinese government intervention in its economy and raised serious concerns about the impact of China's industrial, agricultural, technology and cyber policies on America's jobs and exports, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding.
Trump informed the Chinese leader personally of the strike and Chinese officials later warned against a "further deterioration" of the situation in Syria.
After Tuesday's deadly chemical weapons attack in northern Syria which killed 70 people including 20 children, the President immediately requested a list of options to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"The two presidents agreed to elevate existing bilateral talks to reflect the importance of making progress on issues", Spicer said.
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"Trump's attack on Syria is unlikely to have any significant effect on a North Korea that is already well versed in the threat posed by the United States", said Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
"We have engaged in deeper understanding, and have built a trust", he said.
"The two sides agreed to undertake an ambitious agenda and meeting schedule to show progress and demonstrate meaningful results", he said.
Trump's letter echoed his comments delivered roughly an hour after the strikes on Thursday night, when he characterized the strikes as in the "vital national security interest" of the U.S.
Trump's position on democratically ruled Taiwan - which China considers a breakaway province - has been an major irritant since he accepted a protocol-breaking phone call from the Taiwanese president after his election victory.
Trump talked up the meeting with lots of tough rhetoric about how he was going to get China to fully exert its influence over North Korea or, if he needed to, go it alone, saying Washington could "totally" resolve the issue without China's help. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called the strike an act of "aggression against a sovereign state" and accused the US of violating global law.
Although China is not implicated in the Syrian war, Trump's actions resonate widely, not least in the debate over how to tackle North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Both of these scenarios were part of a North Korea review prepared ahead of Trump's meeting with the Chinese leader.