U.S. President Donald Trump says he has made “tremendous progress” in relations with China after meeting with President Xi Jinping of China, a country Trump has heavily criticized in the past.
Without citing specifics, Trump on April 7 said that "we have made tremendous progress…I think truly progress has been made.”
Xi also spoke in vague, but generally positive terms at the presidents' joint press event.
"We have engaged in deeper understanding, and have built a trust -- a preliminary working relationship and friendship," Xi said. "I believe we will keep developing in a stable way to form friendly relations…. For the peace and stability of the world, we will also fulfill our historical responsibility.”
The comments at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in the southern state of Florida were in contrast to the harsh words repeated often during Trump’s presidential campaign, in which he accused China of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices that were costing U.S. jobs.
Just last week, Trump wrote in a Twitter message that the United States could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses and that his meeting with Xi "will be a very difficult one."
The two-day meeting of the two presidents also came at a time of high tensions around the globe.
The U.S. military overnight conducted a missile strike against a Syrian air base in retaliation for its suspected use of chemical weapons.
And they came two days after China ally North Korea test-launched a ballistic missile in violation of United Nations resolutions, raising protests from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and other nations.
During the second and final day of meetings with the Chinese leader, Trump’s tone had appeared to soften, and Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that Trump had accepted Xi's invitation to visit China.
“We will be making additional progress," Trump said as the second day of talks winded up. “The relationship developed by President Xi and myself, I think, is outstanding.”
“And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away," he added.
The timing of the U.S. action against the Syrian government could be taken as message to the Chinese -- and the North Koreans -- about the Trump administration’s willingness to use military power.
Days before his meeting with Xi, Trump said he was ready to deal with North Korea alone if China did not do more to restrain Pyonyang.
Nevertheless, any military action against North Korea would be substantially more difficult and risky.
The rogue nation has tested nuclear weapons, and the U.S. military has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, whose capital, Seoul, is within the North's artillery range.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP