U.S. President Donald J. Trump met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and toured the Forbidden City on Wednesday as he began the crucial leg of his Asian tour intended to build a global front against North Korea’s nuclear threats.
After warning the North’s “cruel dictatorship” in a speech in Seoul against testing the United States, Mr. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were met by Mr. Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan for tea at the former imperial palace.
The genial gathering will be followed on Thursday by a full day of talks. The United States wants China to put more economic pressure on North Korea. Mr. Trump is also expected to address Beijing’s massive trade surplus with the United States.
Earlier, Mr. Trump congratulated Mr. Xi on his reappointment as China’s Communist Party chief, tweeting: “I very much look forward to meeting with President Xi who is just off his great political victory.”
Trump’s use of the term “political victory” for the outcome of last month’s Communist Party congress was seen by analysts as a conciliatory move before tough talks.
Mr. Xi has prepared an extravagant “state visit-plus” for Mr. Trump, who was greeted by children waving U.S. and Chinese flags at the airport. He was treated to a Peking Opera performance at the Forbidden City.
Mr. Xi said during the tour that he expected Mr. Trump’s visit to yield “positive and important” results.
The U.S. leader has brought a business delegation and 19 deals worth a total $9 billion were signed on Wednesday.
But they may not be enough to allay U.S. concerns about China’s massive trade surplus with the United States, which narrowed in October but remained high at a monthly $26.6 billion.
“Addressing the imbalance in China trade has been the central focus of collaborative discussions between President Trump and President Xi,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.