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Xi, Obama will meet next month

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in St. Petersburg, Russia during the G20 summit on Sept. 6, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

US President Barack Obama will hold "in-depth meetings" with President Xi Jinping next month during his 11th and probably final trip as president to Asia, the core region of his administration's foreign policy, the White House said.

Experts said that disagreements will remain between China and the United States on key issues, such as the South China Sea and the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in the Republic of Korea, but the two leaders will likely strive to reach a consensus.

During the eight-day trip, starting on Sept 2, Obama will attend his final G20 summit in Hangzhou, the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

After the summit, he will visit Laos — the first visit to the country by a US president — where he will attend the US-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit before winding up his Asian trip.

This trip will highlight Obama's ongoing commitment to the G20 as the main forum for international economic cooperation as well as the "US rebalance to Asia and the Pacific" strategy, the White House said.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher in Sino-US relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the talks between Xi and Obama will be "of great importance" to bilateral relations. However, the relationship will continue to experience "ups and downs" with unresolved disputes on issues including the South China Sea and THAAD, he said.

"It will be the 'new normal' (a term usually used to describe China's ongoing economic structural adjustment) of the Sino-US relationship, with fluctuations from time to time," he said, adding that such ups and downs are likely to continue during the next US administration.

Obama's presidential term will end in January.

Zuo Xiying, a researcher of US foreign policy at Renmin University of China, said the possibility could not be ruled out that Obama might "point fingers at China" on the South China Sea issue during multilateral meetings in Laos.

"China will definitely not accept accusations by the US," he said.

Obama's visit to Laos will send a signal to Southeast Asian countries that the US will maintain its presence in the region, he added.

Stephen Orlins, president of the New York-based National Committee on US-China Relations, said in an interview with Xinhua that as the G20 host, China has an opportunity to set the tone and agenda for the meeting and help participants reach consensus.

Orlins also expressed confidence that the G20 summit could help deepen mutual understanding between China and the US and boost bilateral ties.

"Every time that an American president visits China, it is a benefit to US-China relations. Every time that a Chinese president and an American president meet, it is a benefit to US-China relations," Orlins was quoted as saying.

Obama previously visited China in 2009 and 2014.


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