In an opening statement, Biden said that the U.S. and China were “reassuming military-to-military direct contacts,” which have been cutoff. “We are back to open, clear, direct communications,” Biden said, adding that “a vital miscalculation on either side can cause real trouble with a country like China or any other major country.”
China also agreed to work with the U.S. to stem the flow of fentanyl, Biden said.
Biden was asked whether he trusted Xi, and he told reporters, “Trust but verify as the old saying goes. That’s where I am. We’re in a competitive relationship — China and the United States. But my responsibility is to make this rational and manageable, so it doesn’t result in conflict.”
The press conference, held in Woodside, CA, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, was carried on major cable news networks but not broadcast networks, which were already in the midst of primetime on the East Coast.
Biden called on reporters from a pre-arranged list, and the correspondents veered into the dominant international story of the moment — the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The president said that he was “mildly hopeful” about the release of hostages held by Hamas, although he stopped himself from going into much detail of the status of negotiations. He did say that they have had “great cooperation” from Qatar in trying to secure the release.
But he said that he had set any timeline in discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over how long the operation against Hamas can continue.
“I think it is going to stop when Hamas no longer maintains the capacity to murder and abuse and just do the horrific things to the Israelis,” Biden said. “…The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, acknowledges they have an obligation to use as much caution as they can going after their targets.”
Biden answered one last question shouted by a reporter as he exited. It was whether he still thinks that Xi is a dictator.
Biden said, “Well, look. He is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country, that is a communist country, that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours.”