Biden and China’s Xi plan to meet virtually this year after aides’ ‘meaningful,’ substantive’ talks

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping will hold a virtual meeting before the end of this year, according to a senior U.S. administration official.

That’s the key outcome of six hours of meetings Wednesday between two of their top aides – national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs.

The virtual summit comes amid high tension in the critical relationship between the world’s two largest economies, including over trade and regional challenges like Taiwan. China has sent scores of military planes into Taiwan’s air defense zone in recent days, raising concerns about potential conflict.

The two men and their delegations met in Switzerland, where they had what the senior administration official described as a “more meaningful and substantive engagement than we have had to date below the leader level.”

They attributed that to the long phone call Biden and Xi had last month, saying Sullivan and Yang had been “empowered directly” by their leaders to have a more honest back-and-forth, away from cameras and off talking points, per the official.

There had been hopes that Biden and Xi could meet in person on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference or the G20 summit this fall – but Xi will not attend either in person.

So far, there are no other details confirmed about the meeting – one of several tasks ahead of the two leaders’ advisers after these engagements.

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

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