Buenos Aires. US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held high-stakes trade talks on Saturday but ended their summit without any immediate word on whether they made progress toward defusing a damaging tariffs war between Washington and Beijing.
With the United States and China locked in an economic dispute that has unnerved global financial markets and weighed on the world economy, Trump and Xi sat down with their aides for a working dinner at the conclusion of a two-day gathering of world leaders in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Trump told Xi at the start of the meeting he hoped they would achieve "something great" on trade for both countries. The leaders finished their talks after about two and a half hours, with Trump heading to the airport for his scheduled Saturday night departure for Washington. Neither side issued any early statements on the outcome.
Their closely watched encounter came shortly after the Group of 20 industrialized nations backed an overhaul of the global body that regulates international trade disputes, marking a victory for Trump, a sharp critic of the organization.
Trump struck a positive note as he sat across from Xi, despite the US president's earlier threats to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports.
"We'll be discussing trade and I think at some point we are going to end up doing something great for China and great for the United States," Trump said when a small pool of reporters was briefly allowed into the room.
He suggested that the "incredible relationship" he and Xi had established would be "the very primary reason" they could make progress on trade, though he offered no specifics on how they might resolve the main issue dividing their countries.
Xi told Trump that only through cooperation could the United States and China serve the interest of peace and prosperity. The world's two biggest economies have also increasingly been at odds over security in the Asia-Pacific region.
At the same time, Trump again raised with Xi his concern about the synthetic opioid fentanyl being sent from China to the United States, urging the Chinese leader to place it in a "restricted category" of drugs that would criminalize it.
Earlier on Saturday, the leaders of all the world's top economies called for reforms to the crisis-stricken World Trade Organization in a final statement from their summit.
Officials expressed relief that agreement on the summit communique was reached after negotiators worked through the night to overcome differences over language on climate change.
The final text recognized trade as an important engine of global growth but made only a passing reference to "the current trade issues," after the US delegation won a battle to keep any mention of protectionism out of the statement.