Biden proposed first summit with China, report says

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Biden proposed first summit with China, report says

WASHINGTON, Sept 14 Reuters - President Joe Biden proposed a first summit with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in a call last week but failed to secure an agreement, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted multiple people briefed on last Thursday's call as saying that Xi did not take Biden up on the offer and instead insisted Washington adopt a less strident tone toward Beijing.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment. A source who was among the briefed on the call Biden-Xi was ascertained confirmed the report is accurate.

Xi apparently believed that the tone and atmosphere of the relationship needed to be improved first, the source said.

US embassy in Washington did not respond immediately when asked to comment.

The Financial Times quoted one of its sources as saying the summit had been floated by Biden as one of several possibilities for follow-on engagement with Xi and that he was not expecting an immediate response.

It cited one U.S. official as saying that while the White House did not engage with the idea of a summit, it was partly due to concerns about COVID 19 - 20.

The G-20 Summit in Italy in October has been discussed as a possible site for a face-to-face meeting, but Xi has not left China since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year.

The call between Biden and Xi was their first in seven months and they discussed the need to ensure that competition between the world's two largest economies does not veer into conflict.

A U.S. official briefing before the conversation called it a test of whether direct top-level engagement could end what had become a stalemate in ties, which are at the worst level in decades.

The White House said afterward it intended to keep channels of communication open, but has announced no plans for follow-on engagements.

Chinese state media said Biden had told Xi that U.S. policy on China imposed serious difficulties on relations, but added that both sides agreed to maintain frequent contact and ask working-level teams to step up communications.