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Chinese president says ties with U.S. at 'hinge moment'

 (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

The U.S.-China relationship is at a "hinge moment" following the election of Donald Trump as president, President Xi Jinping said Saturday.

Seated across from President Obama before their ninth face-to-face meeting since becoming China's president, Xi made no mention of Trump by name. But he commended Obama for close cooperation on key issues such as North Korea's nuclear development and climate change, before sounding an uncertain tone about the future ties.

"We meet at a hinge moment in the China-U.S. relationship," he said. "I hope the two sides will work together to focus on cooperation, manage our differences, and make sure there is a smooth transition in the relationship and that it will continue to grow going forward." 

The Obama administration has worked to carefully cultivate its relationship with China and Xi in particular, with the Paris climate agreement as a key breakthrough in relations that Obama said demonstrated "what's possible when our two countries work together."

But President-elect Trump cast China as a foe throughout the campaign, threatening to impose new tariffs and formally declare the country a currency manipulator. 

Xi spoke with Trump after his election. Chinese state media reported that Xi told the Republican that cooperation was "the only correct choice for China and the United States."

Xi and Obama met at an oceanfront hotel in Lima as both leaders attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. 

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