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Biden to meet Xi on Wednesday in San Francisco Bay area, US says

President JoeBidenwillmeetChinese PresidentXiJinping face-to-face for the first timeina yearonWednesday, the White House said,inhigh-stakes diplomacy aimed at curbing tensions between the world’s two superpowers.

The closely watched interaction,onthe sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summitintheSanFranciscoBayarea, could last hours and involve teams ofofficialsfrom Beijing and Washington.

It is expectedtocover global issues from the Israel-Hamas wartoRussia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea’s ties with Russia, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific, human rights, fentanyl, artificial intelligence, as well as “fair” trade and economic relations, seniorBidenadministrationofficialssaid.

“Nothing will be held back; everything isonthe table,” accordingtooneU.S.official, who declinedtobe named,ina briefing with reporters.

“We’re clear-eyed about this. We know effortstoshape or reform China over several decades have failed. But we expect Chinatobe around andtobe a major playeronthe world stage for the rest of our lifetimes.”

U.S.officials, who have been pushing for themeetingfor the better part of a year, believe Beijing has actively been workingtoundermineU.S. policy around the world.

The White House confirmed the day of themeetingina statementonFriday. The Chinese foreign ministry saidonFriday thatXiwould visit the United States Nov. 14-17, attend the APEC summit andmeetwithBiden.

BidenandXiwill speak across oceans of ideological difference for the first time since November 2022. TheU.S. president’s team engineered a diplomatic blitztorepair hostile relations afterBidenordered the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon that transitedUS skiesinFebruary.

A main result is expectedtobe greater diplomacy – promisestotalk moreonkey issues, includingonclimate, global health, economic stability, counter-narcotic efforts and potentially the resumption of some military-to-military channels after a high-level freeze.

Both sides may make modest gestures of goodwilltoease talks, accordingtotwo other people briefedonthe discussions.

But deep progress will be hard. Both countries increasingly regard themselves as lockedina direct competitiontosecure a military edge, corner the 21st-century economy and win the affections of second-tier countries,U.S. and Chineseofficialssay.

Effortstocarefully choreographXi’s visit may be upendedinthe restive Northern California city, which has a long history of left-wing protest and agitation.

BidenandXihave known each other for more than a decade and shared hours of conversation over six interactions sinceBiden’s 2021 inauguration. But both men cometothe table with mutual suspicion, grievances and garbled impressions of what the other is seeking, analystssay.

Among other sensitive topics,Bidenis expectedtoraise Chinese “influence operations”inforeign elections and the status ofU.S. citizens that Washington believes are wrongly detainedinChina.

Biden, 80, presides over an economy that has outperformed expectations and most rich nations after the COVID-19 pandemic. Unpopular with voters at home, he is seeking a second terminoffice amid concerns about the stability ofU.S. democracy.

Nonetheless,Bidenhas corralled the nation’s traditional allies from EuropetoAsiatoconfront RussiainUkraine, although some have differences over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Washington’s long alliances, from NATOtothe defense treatiesinthe Pacific, are not-so-quietly being summonedinAsiatodeter a conflict with China.

Xi, a decadeBiden’s junior, has become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, after tightening control over policy, state leaders, the media and military and changing the constitution. Recently, compounding economic challenges have thrown the country off its three-decade, rocket-propelled growth trajectory.

DiplomatsinWashington expect Beijingtotest the United Statesincoming weeks, taking advantage of theU.S.’sperceived shiftinfocusonUkraine and Israel, as it pursues its own ambitionsinthe Indo-Pacific.

Bidenis expectedtotellXithatU.S. commitmentsinthe Indo-Pacific are unchanged. China has worried its neighborsinrecent years with stepsinthe Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and East China Sea,areasof international dispute.Bidenwill also express a specific commitmenttothe security of the Philippines, one of theU.S.officialssaid.

Bidenis also expectedtopressXitoimpressonIran that it would be unwisetotrytoexpand the conflictinthe Middle East, theofficialsaid.

(Published 10 November 2023, 13:55 IST)

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