U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he made strides during his first bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but did not provide full details of the discussions.
The two leaders also did not issue a joint statement or hold a joint press conference, a sign discussions are still taking place.
Trump said instead the two sides made “tremendous progress,” while striking a tone of optimism about future negotiations.
“I think we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China. My representatives have been meeting one-on-one with their counterparts…We’ll be making a lot of additional progress,” Trump said.
Both Xi and Trump suggested a cordial bond had been established, a surprising turn for both governments.
Beijing officials were reportedly nervous ahead of the summit because of Trump’s outspoken criticism of China for “bad trade deals,” and the president’s go-it-alone approach to North Korea — should China opt to not increase pressure on Pyongyang.
But on Friday Trump showed he is willing to try a new approach to China relations.
“The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding. We look forward to being together many times in the future and I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away,” he said, without specifying whether those problems include North Korea.
Xi said he and Trump “arrived at many common understandings” and that “with the passage of time we will make efforts to bear our great historical responsibility for promoting the development of [U.S.-China] relations.”
In a separate statement, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson said Trump and Xi agreed North Korea’s nuclear development had reached a serious stage, but the United States remains ready to pursue a unilateral strategy, that includes military deployment, should additional pressure from China not produce the desired outcome on North Korea.
Experts have said Trump’s order of an air strike on the Syrian government on the same evening he sat down with Xi for their first state dinner could have been intended to send a strong message of warning to Pyongyang.
By Elizabeth Shim