Groundwork Laid for Biden, Xi Meeting

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday that she and her Chinese counterpart agreed to work toward a "healthy economic relationship," during two days of talks that she said helped lay the groundwork for a productive meeting next week between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Yellen said many disagreements remain between the two countries, but she and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng committed to working together "on global challenges, from debt issues to climate change-related economic issues."

And both countries, she said, "welcome the objective of a healthy economic relationship that provides a level playing field for companies and workers in both countries and benefits the two peoples."

She added that she plans to return to China next year after making her first trip there as treasury secretary in July.

Biden and Xi will meet Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, the first engagement in a year between the leaders of the world's two biggest economies.

Their finance chiefs held talks in San Francisco this week with the aim of making progress on a slew of economic and trade issues at a time when competition has markedly intensified between their countries.

A Treasury Department readout of the meetings said both sides agreed to increase communications on economic issues and emphasized a commitment not to break economic ties.

"Our mutual desire, both China and the United States, is to create a level playing field and ongoing, meaningful and mutually beneficial economic relations," Yellen said. "That is our main focus."

Yellen has met with a host of Chinese officials throughout this year.

In January, she had her first face-to-face meeting with former Vice Premier Liu He in Zurich. She traveled to China in July to discuss economic policies between the nations and urged Chinese government officials to cooperate on climate change and other global challenges and not let sharp disagreements about trade and other irritants derail relations.