Amidst concerns that the surprise airstrikes in Syria would hamper relations between the U.S. and China, President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he has made “tremendous progress” during a face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in mending the rift between the two countries.
“We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China,” Trump told reporters during a brief press conference. “I think truly progress has been made,” the president continued, describing his ongoing talks with Xi as “outstanding.”
While there is a long and potentially contentious list of topics of discussion between Trump and Xi, the White House announced earlier this week that it would focus on trade disputes and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions during the Friday sit down at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
North Korea has emerged as particularly problematic thanks to its stubborn commitment to flexing its missile program. Its fourth attempted missile launch this year came on Wednesday, when it fired a ballistic missile into the waters near Japan.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently suggested that the U.S. would take a more direct approach to handling North Korea, stating: “The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures. All options are on the table.”
The president’s talks with Xi, though, could go a long way toward encouraging China to step up its efforts to curb North Korean aggression.
“I think lots, lots of very bad problems will be going away,” Trump told reporters ahead of the meeting. He had initially planned to label China a currency manipulator during the meeting, but the White House indicated that it would change course and wait until after Trump and Xi had an opportunity to talk privately before taking any such action.