| PALM BEACH, Fla., April 7
PALM BEACH, Fla., April 7 U.S. President Donald
Trump said on Friday he had made progress in talks with Chinese
President Xi Jinping and expected them to overcome many
problems, a marked contrast to the stridently anti-China
rhetoric of Trump's 2016 election campaign.
Sitting across from Xi on the second day of a Florida summit
overshadowed by U.S. missile strikes in Syria overnight, Trump
declared that his relationship with the Chinese leader was
outstanding after they discussed trade irritants and concerns
about North Korea's nuclear program.
Trump had said he intended to raise concerns about China's
trade practices and press Xi to do more to rein in North Korea's
nuclear ambitions during his visit to the Spanish-style
Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, though no major deals
on either issue are expected.
The Republican president, who took office on Jan. 20,
tweeted last week that the United States could no longer
tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses and that his
meeting with Xi "will be a very difficult one."
On Friday, there was a change of tone.
"We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with
China," Trump said as the two delegations met around tables
flanked by large U.S. and Chinese flags. "I think truly progress
has been made. We will be making additional progress. The
relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is
“And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be
going away," he added.
The highly anticipated U.S.-China summit has been upstaged,
however, by U.S. missile strikes overnight against a Syrian air
base from which Trump said a deadly chemical weapon attack had
been launched. It was the first direct U.S. assault on the
Russian-backed government of Bashar al-Assad in six years of
The swift action in Syria could be interpreted as a signal
especially to defiant nuclear-armed North Korea – and by
extension, its ally China – as well as other countries like Iran
and Russia of Trump’s willingness to use military force if
U.S. security concerns with China also focus on Beijing's
expansive territorial claims in the strategic South China Sea.
A senior administration official said Trump informed Xi
about the strikes as their dinner concluded on Thursday night.
Trump then made a televised statement on the operation he said
he ordered in retaliation for the poison gas attack, which
killed scores of people, including children, in a rebel-held
area on Tuesday.
In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry urged all parties in
Syria to find a political settlement.
Trump and Xi, politicians with distinctly different styles
and experience levels, appeared cordial and businesslike in
their initial interactions, with no outward sign of tensions.
The protocol-conscious Chinese earlier had privately
expressed concerns that the unpredictable Trump might publicly
embarrass the veteran Communist Party chief.
(Writing by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom; Editing by