This week’s relatively informal and
unscripted summit between the presidents of the United States and China on a
private estate in southern California is being welcomed by most analysts here
as a virtually unprecedented opportunity for each side to gain a better
understanding of the strategic aims of the other.
The two-day meeting between
President Barack Obama and China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, which begins Friday
at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, will likely cover the broad range of
issues – among them,
cyber-security, intellectual property, maritime conflicts, North Korea’s
nuclear ambitions, and the Middle East – that have recently bedevilled ties
between the two great powers.
“I think it’s very important that
the two presidents get together to develop as best they can some kind of
personal relationship that will allow them to have, if not trust, at least
confidence about what the other leader is seeking to achieve and what policies
or actions by one side or the other might either advance or set back
relations,” Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson
Center and 27-year State Department veteran, told IPS.
“One meeting isn’t going to do it,
so they need to engage in sustained dialogue over time more often, and not just
on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly or other fora,” he said, adding
that the “mutual strategic suspicion” that currently exists between the two
powers “greatly inhibits their ability to move boldly forward together on a
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