SAN FRANCISCO -- President Joe Biden arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the APEC summit Tuesday, just ahead of China's President Xi Jinping. The arrivals come as anticipation is building for the expected meeting between the two world leaders Wednesday.
President Biden stepped off of Air Force One and into a packed agenda planned for his APEC visit. His arrival came nearly a half hour after Vice President Kamala Harris arrived on Air Force Two.
Biden was greeted by several local key leaders, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Congressman Kevin Mullin and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
"What I hope is that President Biden will just really take away the beautiful majestic views of San Francisco, the excitement around APEC, the hospitality from San Franciscans," Breed said.
Though Biden has plenty on his agenda while in town for APEC one of the most important items is his Wednesday meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Their meeting is set to happen at Filoli Estate for four hours in San Mateo County.
Biden previously defined his idea of a successful meeting.
"To get back on a normal course of corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another when there's another crisis," he said, "Being able to make sure our militaries still have contact with one another."
Though the U.S. and China have some differences, there are some common goals.
There are reports that an agreement could be announced on Wednesday that would address source material involved in the illegal fentanyl trade.
There are also reports the two nations could agree to limit the use of AI in nuclear weapons.
Biden on Monday welcomed Indonesian President Joko Widodo, a fellow APEC leader, to the White House for talks before both travel to San Francisco. The Oval Office visit came at a somewhat awkward moment as Widodo, the leader of the world's most populous Muslim country, has been fiercely critical of Israel's operations in the Gaza Strip.
Biden, meanwhile, has been unapologetic in standing staunchly by Israel and backing its right to defend itself following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants that left 1,200 dead. Israel's retaliatory operations in Gaza have killed more than 11,000, sparking outrage from a slew of world leaders. The Indonesian president, in a speech at Georgetown University on Monday, lamented that "human life seems meaningless" as Israel prosecutes its operations.
Their differences on the Israel-Hamas war notwithstanding, Biden made clear during his sit-down with Widodo that he's looking to improve ties with the Southeast Asian power on combating the climate crisis and other issues.
The White House effort to herd APEC members to sign on to a summit-concluding joint declaration, a fixture at most international summits, could be complicated by diverging views among members on the Israel-Hamas and Ukraine wars.
"We're certainly working for having a strong consensus statement in APEC, for the leaders to be able to release at the end of the week," said Ambassador Matt Murray, the senior U.S. official for APEC.
Among close allies expected to be in San Francisco are Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Historically frosty relations between South Korea and Japan have rapidly thawed over the last year as they share concerns about China's assertiveness in the Pacific and North Korea's persistent nuclear threats.
Biden is expected to remind Xi about the U.S. commitment to the Philippines, following a recent episode in which Chinese ships blocked and collided with two Philippine vessels off a contested shoal in the South China Sea, according to a senior administration who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview some of Biden's agenda.
The Philippines and other neighbors of China are resisting Beijing's sweeping territorial claims over virtually the entire sea.
Biden enters the Xi meeting feeling buoyed by the U.S. economy's strong performance. While the majority of U.S. adults believe the economy is weak, Biden has managed to prove wrong a large swath of economists who predicted that millions of layoffs and a recession might be needed to bring down inflation. The Labor Department said Tuesday that consumer prices rose at an annual pace of 3.2% annually, down from a June 2022 peak of 9.1%. Meanwhile, employers keep hiring and the unemployment rate has held below 4% for nearly two years.
Biden also noted that China is "in trouble right now economically."
Beijing released economic data last month that shows prices falling due to slack demand from consumers and businesses. The International Monetary Fund recently cut growth forecasts for China, predicting economic growth of 5% this year and 4.2% in 2024, down slightly from its forecasts in July.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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