'Nice for them': White House jokes about Putin, Xi meeting

Agence France-Presse
'Nice for them': White House jokes about Putin, Xi meeting
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 6, 2019, Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and China's President Xi Jinping attend a ceremony presenting Xi with a degree from the Saint Petersburg State University on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg. Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a state visit to Russia on March 20, 2023, a trip Beijing has touted as a "visit for peace" as it seeks to play mediator in Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.
AFP / Pool / Dmitry Lovetsky

WASHINGTON, United States — The White House said Friday that it had not seen any surprising advance in relations between China and Russia despite Vladimir Putin exchanging a hug with Xi Jinping on a visit to Beijing.

"Exchanging hugs? Well, that's nice for them," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told a briefing when asked about the significance of photos showing the two US adversaries locked in an embrace.

"I'm not good at talking about personal human bodily affection one way or the other. I think I'll leave it to these two gents to talk about why they thought it was good to hug one another," said Kirby, a naval admiral known for his dry remarks from the podium.

The United States has repeatedly voiced concerns about Chinese companies supplying Russia with technology for its invasion of Ukraine.

But Kirby said Putin's visit did not seem to have secured any major advances in this regard and Washington had not seen Xi "rush" to assist Moscow's armed forces.

"We didn’t see anything coming out of this meeting that we were necessarily surprised by," he said.

But he added that "I wouldn't go so far as to say we weren't concerned about this relationship and where it's going. "We're watching."

Putin arrived Thursday on his first trip abroad since his March re-election, meeting Xi for talks in which the leaders framed their nations' ties as a stabilizing force in a chaotic world.

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