Biden, Xi restore military ties despite 'dictator' comment

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at their first summit in a year on Wednesday to restore military communications between the two countries, even as Biden went off script by saying he still considered Xi a "dictator."

The leaders shook hands and strolled around a garden at a historic California estate during four-hour talks aimed at preventing growing tensions between the world's largest economies from spiraling into conflict.

They also agreed that China would crack down on the production of ingredients for fentanyl, responsible for a deadly epidemic of opioid abuse in the United States, with Xi saying he "sympathizes" with US victims of the deadly drug, which has ravaged communities across the country.

But Xi and Biden remained far apart on the wider flashpoint of Taiwan, with the Chinese president telling his US counterpart to stop arming the island and that reunification was "unstoppable."

Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-ruling democracy and has not ruled out seizing it by force.

The two leaders had not met in person since they held talks in Bali in November 2022, and relations nosedived after the United States shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon in February this year.

But Biden told a press conference at the Filoli estate that his talks with Xi, whom he has known since 2011, were "some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had."

 'He's a dictator'

The United States would compete "vigorously" but "responsibly" with an increasingly assertive China "so it doesn't veer into conflict or accidental conflict," Biden said.

"He and I agreed that each one of us could pick up the phone, call directly and we'll be heard...

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