(Adds confirmation from source, general, non-response to White House or ambassador)
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden requested the first meeting of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last week, but failed to reach an agreement, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
The newspaper cited a number of people who were quoted in the call last Thursday as saying that Xi did not give Biden a place and instead urged Washington not to focus on Beijing.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But a source who was one of the reported in the 90 minutes of Biden-Xi confirmed that the report was accurate.
“It seems that Xi was impressed that their music and relationships should be rehearsed first,” the source said.
The Chinese ambassador to Washington did not respond immediately when asked to comment.
The Financial Times quoted one of his experts as saying that Biden ran the conference as one of Xi’s first steps, and did not expect a quick response.
It cited an American official that although Xi did not attend the meeting, the White House believes it may be due to concerns about COVID-19.
The G20 summit in Italy in October has been described as a place for face-to-face talks, but Xi has not left China since the outbreak began early last year.
Singing between Biden and Xi was the first in seven months and they discussed the need to ensure that competition between the world’s two largest economies does not provoke controversy.
The US meeting in pre-negotiation to test whether attempts to participate in the decision-making process alone would eliminate what disrupted the relationship, which has been rampant for decades.
The White House says it later tried to keep the lines of communication open, but did not create a negotiation plan.
Chinese journalists say Xi told Biden that the U.S.-China policy had created “difficulties” in relations, but added that both parties had agreed to communicate more frequently and called on working groups to strengthen communication. (Report by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; By Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)