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White House denies US President Biden and China's Xi being ‘old friends’, ‘it's just pure business’

“It’s the first time for us to meet virtually. Although it’s not as good as a face-to-face meeting, I’m very happy to see my old friend,” Xi had said ahead of the summit via a translator before the meeting with Biden.

White House denies US President Biden and China's Xi being old friends, it's just pure business-dnm
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Washington D.C., First Published Nov 17, 2021, 4:10 PM IST
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The White House officials on Tuesday reiterated and denied that US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are “old friends” after Xi, speaking through an interpreter in a virtual meeting with Biden Monday night, referred to his American counterpart as “my old friend”.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday appeared to dispute Xi’s choice of words and the fact that the two leaders are friends. “It’s the first time for us to meet virtually. Although it’s not as good as a face-to-face meeting, I’m very happy to see my old friend,” Xi had said ahead of the summit via a translator before the meeting with Biden.

When asked by Fox News’ reporter Peter Doocy whether the US president would consider himself a good friend with Xi Jinping and would hence demand China to cooperate with the Covid-19 investigation, Biden replied, “Let’s get something straight: we know each other well, we’re not old friends. It’s just pure business,” according to Fox News. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Psaki reiterated that US President Joe Biden did not consider Chinese President Xi Jinping as “an old friend.”

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Asked what Xi was getting at -- and if Xi was trying to undermine the US -- White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates didn't answer directly, but reiterated that Biden doesn't see Xi as an “old friend”. “I'm not going to speak for President Xi,” Bates told a reporter on Air Force One as Biden headed to New Hampshire.

“But like you just mentioned," Bates continued, "you've heard explicitly from the president himself, that he has a longstanding relationship with President Xi. They've spent a great deal of time together. They are able to have candid discussions, be direct with each other, which helps them be productive. But he does not consider President Xi an old friend.”

Denying the Chinese President’s claim made via the interpreter that the two leaders were good friends, White House officials issued a statement Tuesday, 16 November saying that the US leader Biden isn’t “friends” with the Chinese President. Speaking through an interpreter, when China’s President Xi Jinping called Biden “my old friend", Biden responded by saying "Thank you". When asked about what President Biden implied and if the Chinese leader was mocking the US commander in chief, the White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates didn’t choose to answer directly but stressed that Biden doesn’t see Xi as an “old friend.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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