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US-China tensions

Biden-Xi meeting 'likely' at October G-20 summit, US says

Turkey is committed to protecting Kabul airport, national security adviser says

Joe Biden, then U.S. vice president, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2013.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- A meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will likely take place in October at the Group of 20 summit, the White House said on Thursday, noting Western countries' increasing alignment on China.

Biden "will look for opportunities to engage with President Xi going forward," U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on a briefing call when asked if such a summit is in the picture after Biden concluded his first trip abroad as president to Europe on Wednesday.

In addition to attending the Group of Seven summit, Biden's weeklong itinerary was also packed with bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"What the president said about there being no substitute for leader-level dialogue as a central part of why he held the summit with Putin yesterday also applies to China and to President Xi Jinping," Sullivan said.

As for a summit between Biden and Xi, "we don't have any particular plans at the moment, but I would note that both leaders are likely to be at the G-20 in Italy in October," Sullivan continued. 

The most recent high-level correspondence between Beijing and Washington took place just ahead of the G-7 summit, when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Chinese foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi, who is a Politburo member and the director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission.

Sullivan said a major area of progress out of the G-7 meeting this week was "convergence among like-minded countries, among the world's democracies, on China."

This includes the start of a new infrastructure initiative billed as a high-standard and transparent alternative to Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, directly addressing the challenge of China in a NATO communique for the first time, as well as the launch of the U.S.-EU Trade Technology Council, which seeks to coordinate response to China's nonmarket economic practices, he said.

On Biden's engagement with Turkey, Sullivan underscored Erdogan's "clear commitment" to protecting the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ankara has said Turkish troops will remain there after U.S. forces leave. In April, Biden announced a full U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. Central Command said last week that it had completed more than 50% of the withdrawal. 

"Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute against that," Sullivan said Thursday.

"Obviously, we take seriously the concern that the Taliban or other elements in Afghanistan will attack the Western -- or the international -- presence, diplomatic presence or security presence in and around Kabul," he continued. "That's why we are putting together a detailed and effective security plan." 

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