U.S. President Joe Biden denied, Tuesday, a media report that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, turned down his offer for a face-to-face meeting.
The Financial Times cited multiple people briefed on a 90-minute call between the two leaders last week as saying Xi did not take Biden up on the offer and instead insisted that Washington adopt a less strident tone toward Beijing.
“It’s not true,” Biden said when asked by reporters if he was disappointed that Xi did not want to meet with him.
On his part, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement that the report was “not an accurate portrayal of the call. Period.”
In his statement, Sullivan added: “As we’ve said, the Presidents discussed the importance of being able to have private discussions between the two leaders, and were going to respect that.”
Nevertheless, China’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond when asked to comment.
“Xi apparently intimated that the tone and atmosphere of the relationship needed to be improved first,” the source told Reuters.
During the call, the two leaders discussed the need to ensure that competition between the world’s two largest economies does not veer into conflict.
The White House said afterward it was intended to keep channels of communication open, but it has announced no plans for follow-on engagements.
Chinese state media said Xi had told the American President that US policy on China imposed “serious difficulties” on relations, but added that both sides agreed to maintain frequent contact and ask working-level teams to step up communications.