Xi Jinping

Xi and Obama set date for two-day summit in California

Pressure for face-to-face meeting on both sides leads to summit next month with the goals of meeting challenges and 'managing differences'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 5:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 1:02pm

President Xi Jinping will hold two days of talks with US President Barack Obama in the resort city of Rancho Mirage, California, next month.

It will be their first face-to-face encounter since Xi became president in March.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in New Delhi yesterday the leaders would discuss an "overall plan for the future of bilateral relations" on June 7 and 8.

The White House said in a statement: "They will review progress and challenges in US-China relations over the past four years and discuss ways to enhance co-operation, while constructively managing our differences, in the years ahead."

A diplomatic source told the South China Morning Post that representatives of both nations had been working on a possible meeting for months.

Both sides believed a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Russia, in September was too long to wait. A Beijing diplomat said: "It has been a consensus … that the leaders should meet sooner rather than later after the reshuffles of the governments in both nations."

Bonnie Glaser, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said: "They needed more than 20 minutes on the sidelines of another meeting. US-China relations are not managed from the bottom up, but from the top down."

Xi will stop off in California after travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico. The leaders will meet at Sunnylands, an 80-hectare estate in Rancho Mirage. Analysts said the decision to hold a working visit instead of a pomp-filled state summit showed the two governments' desire to put protocol aside and focus on substance.

Shi Yinhong, director of the Centre for American Studies at Renmin University, expected the North Korean nuclear threat, the territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands and internet security to dominate the agenda.

Xi met Obama in Washington in February last year when he was vice-president.

Additional reporting by Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg and Teddy Ng in New Delhi