China's veto with Russia of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria earlier this month was among a broad range of issues discussed during talks President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden and other U.S. officials had with visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.
Since China joined Russia in vetoing the U.N. resolution, the United States has continued to make clear its deep disappointment with Beijing's position on Syria.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called the veto disgusting.
Before Vice President Xi visited the White House, a key question was to what extent President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other U.S. officials would raise the Syria veto with China's anticipated future leader.
During brief public remarks at the White House with the Chinese vice president, Biden spoke in general terms about the two countries not seeing "eye to eye" on particular issues.
At a State Department lunch for Vice President Xi, Biden specifically mentioning the China vote on Syria.
"We saw this in the recent United Nations Security Council debate about Syria, where we strongly disagreed with China and Russia's veto of a resolution against the unconscionable violence being perpetrated by the [Bashar al-] Assad regime," said Vice President Biden.
Biden repeated a statement he made at the White House with Vice President Xi that the ability of the United States and China to speak candidly about their differences reflects the "strength and maturity" of Sino-American relations.
President Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked by reporters whether the president raised China's veto of the Syria resolution during his meeting with Xi.
"It is elemental to the kind of relationship we have established with China in this administration that we speak very candidly about the full range of issues that are on the table between us - both the ones where we cooperate very effectively and where we have concerns, and that includes our disappointment that China joined with Russia in vetoing the U.N. Security Council resolution not long ago with regard to Syria," said Carney.
Asked whether the White House agreed with a statement by the Istanbul-based exile Syrian National Council that the Security Council veto had given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "license to kill," Carney said he agreed with that assessment.
"That has seemed to have been the case, and it is highly regrettable that that veto occurred and that the resolution didn't pass," he said. “And that is why it is so important for action to be taken for the international community of nations who consider themselves friends of the Syrian people to come together and do everything they can to further pressure the Assad regime and to assist the Syrian people."
Carney quoted President Obama as saying that the reason his meeting with Vice President Xi ran nearly 90 minutes is because of the "importance of the relationship and cooperation in dealing with a range of challenges" the United States and China face together.