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Biden has 'open' conversation with China's Xi over nuclear war, Russia's Ukraine invasion

President Biden said he had an “open and candid conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday.

Following the meeting, which lasted over three hours, Biden said that the two were “clear” about not looking for conflict and that the U.S. and China would “work together when they can.”

The discussion took place in Bali, Indonesia, where a G-20 summit is being held. The talks were held alongside the formal meeting of the leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Biden stand in front of Chinese and American flags.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Biden met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden and Xi greeted each other with a handshake in front of reporters ahead of their meeting. “As the leaders of our two nations, we share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation,” Biden said.

During the talks, Biden stressed that both China and the U.S. should work on “transnational challenges” such as climate change, health security and global food security. A readout of the meeting published by the White House said Biden also said the U.S. would oppose “any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side” on Xi’s “One China” policy regarding Taiwan’s independence. This means the U.S. still acknowledges Beijing’s claim over its neighboring island nation — reiterating Biden’s comments about the U.S.’s position made at the U.N. in September.

On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both leaders repeated their agreement that “a nuclear war should never be fought.” This comes after the news that CIA Director William Burns would be meeting his Russian counterpart in Turkey on Monday to warn against the potential use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“He is conveying a message on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, and the risks of escalation to strategic stability,” a White House spokeswoman said.

A destroyed car and other rubble is seen in the foreground as burned out buildings, including a wall with a mural, are seen behind.
A destroyed car and other rubble in the town of Borodyanka, Ukraine, on Nov. 12. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden also raised concerns about North Korea’s “provocative behavior” after it fired several missiles earlier this month.

The president said he discussed China’s human rights record with Xi and said it was a priority for his administration to have the cases of detained American citizens in the People’s Republic resolved.

Biden announced that both he and Xi agreed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would visit China to follow up on the discussions.

It was the first face-to-face meeting since both became leaders of their respective countries. They had met previously as vice presidents in 2011 when Biden visited China.