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Biden, Xi compete for Asia-Pacific allies at summit

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping made rival bids to win over Asia-Pacific allies at a summit in San Francisco Thursday, just a day after the two leaders met in a bid to reduce tensions between the superpowers.

"We're not going anywhere," Biden told business leaders attending the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in San Francisco as he tried to reassure the 21 member economies of US commitment to the region.

Biden said there would be regional and global benefits from his talks with Xi, a day after they met for the first time in a year at a villa outside the city and emerged pledging to avoid a dangerous rift.

They agreed to restore military-to-military links and Xi promised to curb production of the ingredients in China for the drug fentanyl, although disagreements over Taiwan remained broad.

"A stable relationship between the world's two largest economies is not merely good for those two economies but for the world," Biden said.

The only discordant note came when Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he still regarded Xi as a "dictator" 

But despite the easing of tensions, Biden set out his stall that Washington was a better ally for many of the bloc's 21 member economies than an increasingly assertive Beijing. 

He said Xi had asked him on Wednesday "why we are so engaged in the Pacific."

"I said it's because we're a Pacific nation. Because of us there's been peace and security in the region, allowing you to grow. He didn't disagree," said Biden.

Biden also had a three-way meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, whom he hosted for a historic summit at Camp David in August.

Kishida and Xi had their first meeting in a year on the sidelines, with the Japanese leader voicing "serious concerns" over Chinese military activity in waters near Japan and Beijing's "collaboration with Russia".

He also demanded China lift its ban on Japanese seafood, imposed after Tokyo began releasing treated wastewater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in August.

China and the United States are competing for influence across the