Biden, Xi prepare to meet ahead of G20 summit overshadowed by Ukraine

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived on the Indonesian island of Bali on Monday for a long-awaited meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) summit. Arrived on Monday. With tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two leaders are expected to discuss Taiwan, Ukraine and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, which will also be discussed at the G20 meeting that begins on Tuesday without Russian President Vladimir Putin attending.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent the Russian president at the G20 summit – the first since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – after the Kremlin said Putin was too busy to attend.

At Monday’s meeting with Xi, Biden told Asian leaders in Cambodia that U.S. lines of communication with China would remain open to prevent conflict, and tough talks are almost certain in the coming days. They arrived in Bali late on Sunday.

From Hong Kong and Taiwan to the South China Sea, relations between the superpowers have fallen to their lowest level in decades due to rising tensions in recent years over a host of US restrictions on trade practices and Chinese technology.

But U.S. officials said there have been quiet efforts over the past two months by both Beijing and Washington to restore ties.

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“These meetings don’t happen in isolation, they’re part of a very long-term process,” a Biden administration official said. “We have engaged behind the scenes in serious, sustained — dozens and dozens of hours — quiet diplomacy.

“I think we’re very satisfied with the seriousness that both sides have brought to this process.”

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters that the meeting was aimed at “strengthening the relationship between the US and China and creating a more certain environment for US business”.

He said Biden has been clear with China about national security concerns over restrictions on sensitive US technologies and has expressed concern about the reliability of Chinese supply chains for commodities such as minerals.

Meeting at a luxury hotel

Biden and Xi, who have had five phone or video calls since Biden became president in January 2021, last met in person during the Obama administration when Biden was vice president.

Monday’s face-to-face meeting will take place at The Mulia, a beachfront luxury hotel on Nusa Dua Bay in Bali. The White House has said a joint statement is unlikely.

The two leaders will attend the opening of the G20 summit on Tuesday.

The host of the summit, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, said he hoped the meeting could “deliver a solid partnership that can help the world in its economic recovery”.

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However, one of the main topics at the G20 will be Russia’s war in Ukraine and Biden will be “unapologetic” in defending the European nation, US officials said last week.

Xi and Putin have grown increasingly close in recent years, bound by their shared distrust of the West, and reiterated their partnership just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. But China has been careful not to provide any direct material support that could trigger Western sanctions against it.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed the “irresponsibility” of nuclear threats during a summit in Cambodia, suggesting China is uncomfortable with nuclear rhetoric from strategic partner Russia, a Biden administration official said.

The West has accused Russia of making irresponsible statements about the possible use of nuclear weapons since its invasion of Ukraine in February. Russia in turn has accused the West of “provocative” nuclear rhetoric.

Russia’s Lavrov said on Sunday that the West was “militarizing” Southeast Asia to contain Russian and Chinese interests, setting the stage for further clashes with Western leaders at the G20.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi has said that he will address the G20 meeting via video link on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Rishi Singh is expected to meet Lavrov at the summit, a Downing Street spokesman said. He is also likely to have a bilateral meeting with Biden.

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His government said Sink would call for coordinated action from the G20 to tackle economic instability and rising living costs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The G20, which includes countries from Brazil to India and Germany, accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 60 percent of its population.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was due to join Widodo on Monday to address the parallel B20 business forum ahead of the summit. Albany said he would meet Xi Jinping on Tuesday, which he described as a positive development after years of tensions.

Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) and Twitter Inc, addressed a business forum and said he had “a lot of work” on his plate.

Speaking via video link, he appeared lit by candles, wearing a batik shirt sent by the organisers. He said that he is speaking from a place where power has just been lost.

Reporting by Nandita Bose, Francesca Nangoy, Lika Kahara, David Lauder and Simon Lewis in Noosa Dua; Written by Kay Johnson and Raju Gopalakrishnan; Edited by Ed Davis and Robert Brussell

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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