Biden-Xi virtual meeting planned for as soon as next week-person briefed on matter

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A virtual meeting planned between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be held as soon as next week, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters.

Spokespersons for the White House and the Chinese embassy in Washington declined to confirm whether the meeting would take place next week.

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White House spokeswoman Karine Jean Pierre was asked at a briefing on Monday about the timing of the virtual meeting and reiterated there was an agreement in principle for Biden and Xi to hold it before the end of the year.

She said working-level discussions were underway to confirm details, but declined to offer specifics.

Combative diplomatic exchanges with China early in the Biden administration unnerved allies, and US officials believe direct engagement with Xi is the best way to prevent the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies from spiraling toward conflict.

The two sides said they had reached an agreement in principle to hold the virtual meeting between Biden and Xi before year-end after talks in the Swiss city of Zurich last month between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi.

Sources told Reuters last month that, given China’s domestic COVID-19 restrictions and Xi’s reluctance to travel, Washington was aiming for a video conference call in November.

Stakes for the meeting are high – Washington and Beijing have been sparring on issues from the origins of the pandemic to China’s expanding nuclear arsenal – but Biden’s team has so far set low expectations for specific outcomes.

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