The United States and China agreed Friday to work toward a meeting between the countries' leaders next month, officials said after President Joe Biden met with Beijing's top diplomat at the White House.
Biden invited Xi Jinping to San Francisco in November for the Asia-Pacific Cooperation (APEC) Forum, amid strained relations with China. Xi has not yet confirmed that he will attend.
Following talks held by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Biden and other senior US officials in Washington, the White House said both countries agreed to continue "high-level diplomacy" to try to strengthen ties.
Both sides "reaffirmed" that they were "working together toward a meeting of President Biden and President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November," the White House said in a statement.
A senior administration official said the White House was leaving it up to Beijing to confirm whether Xi would attend, but that they were "making preparations for such a meeting."
An official report of talks between Wang and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan published by Beijing confirmed that "both sides agreed to make joint efforts to hold a meeting between the two heads of state."
In a separate report from his meeting with Biden, Wang was quoted as saying that his visit was aimed at "working to arrest the decline of China-U.S. relations, stabilize them, and return them to the path of sound and stable development."
Biden noted that Washington and Beijing must "manage competition in the bilateral relationship responsibly and maintain open lines of communication," according to the White House.
Against the backdrop of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East, Biden also "underscored that the United States and China must work together to address global challenges," he added.
Wang Yi is making a rare two-day visit to Washington during which he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the latest in a series of high-level contacts between the United States and China.
– Stabilization –
Wang said after meeting with Blinken on Thursday that his country aims to "stabilize relations" with the United States and "reduce misunderstandings" after years of tensions.
He acknowledged, however, that differences will still arise and said China will respond to them "calmly" because "what is right and what is wrong is not determined by who has the strongest arm or the loudest voice."
Biden and Xi have not had direct contact since a meeting in Bali in November 2022.
Relations have been strained for years between the world's two major economies, which are competing to increase their influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
Beijing in turn promotes cooperation with Russia, in an attempt to reduce American dominance.
Tensions have been particularly strong over the island of Taiwan, around which China has launched major military exercises in response to actions by US lawmakers.
The United States and China have also exchanged criticism over the conflict in the Middle East.
Biden warned China on Wednesday about the obligations of the treaty his country signed with the Philippines, after, according to Washington, Chinese ships deliberately attacked others from Manila in disputed waters, a version disputed by Beijing.
Speaking alongside the prime minister of Australia, a key US ally, Biden promised to compete with China "on every level, in accordance with international rules."
"But I'm not looking for conflict," he said.