The United States and China pledged Saturday to work more closely together on a range of security, trade and health issues during talks between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
However, unusual altercations among White House staff, American reporters and Chinese security officials during Obama's arrival threatened to mar the meeting before it began.
But, President Obama said he "wouldn't over-crank the significance" of the flare-up. He said blowups always happen when the White House negotiates about how much access the U.S. press will have to the president and other foreign leaders. "We don't leave our values and our ideals behind" when going on trips, Obama said.
After Air Force One landed in Hangzhou, Chinese officials shouted at White House staffers for allowing the traveling American press contingent onto the tarmac. One official heatedly confronted Susan Rice, the national security adviser.
Later, at West Lake State Guest House, where the two leaders planned to meet, Chinese and American officials argued in Chinese over how many staff and reporters would be allowed in. At one point, reporters said that a Chinese official loudly objected to how Chinese security officials were treating the Americans. Nonetheless, Obama and Xi spent some 3½ hours talking before taking a nighttime garden stroll.
A White House statement said the leaders agreed to work jointly to build the peacekeeping capacity of Third World partners, with Washington providing engineering and military logistical support that will ensure rapid deployment of such units. China said it intended to make ready some units of its promised 8,000-member peacekeeping force within 60 days.
Information on terrorism suspects
The presidents also pledged to improve information sharing on foreign terrorism suspects, including biographical information and debriefing reports. Additionally, the statement said both sides reaffirmed their intent to implement a series of cybersecurity measures aimed at curbing "malicious" hacking and theft of intellectual property.
The two leaders also discussed military cooperation "in areas of mutual interest," including what the statement said were measures "to deepen mutual trust, improve operational safety and reduce risk between our armed forces." It said both sides also pledged to continue developing and implementing a series of confidence-building measures agreed on by both countries in November 2014.
The White House said the talks highlighted and reaffirmed commitments to combat trafficking of ivory, which experts say poses a lethal threat to dwindling elephant populations in Africa. The statement noted that China banned ivory imports this year, and said Beijing had now committed to publishing a timetable for halting China's domestic commercial ivory trade by the end of this year.
Both sides also affirmed earlier commitments to reach accords with other nations aimed at curbing unregulated commercial fishing on the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. The statement further said both sides also decided to support mutually beneficial science-related activities in both the Arctic and Antarctic.