Trump meeting: Two most Powerful men first face to face encounter

Trump meeting: Two most Powerful men first face to face encounter

WEST PALM BEACH (AFP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in Florida Thursday for a first face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump , hoping that a basket full of "tweetable" deals will help avoid a public clash.

Xi was greeted at Palm Beach airport by a red carpet, military honor guard, fluttering Chinese and American flags and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump had yet to arrive to Florida, but the pair will gather later at his Mar-a-Lago resort -- which the US president likes to call the "Winter White House" -- for what promises to be a masterclass in studied informality.

Matt Pottinger, the White House Asia expert tasked with planning the high-stakes superpower summit, promised a "relaxed interaction" despite a backdrop of tensions over trade and North Korea.

"Spouses will be there" said Pottinger, indicating the leaders will be joined Thursday evening by US first lady and former model Melania Trump and Peng Liyuan -- a celebrated folk singer who was once more famous than her husband.

The group will "have an opportunity to have tea together, meet some of their senior cabinet officials, so to speak, on both sides, and have a dinner," Pottinger added.

Talks will continue up to a working lunch on Friday.

Amid concerns about security and public perceptions, officials said Xi and his wife will not be staying at Mar-a-Lago, but at a resort and spa a short drive down the palm-fringed coast that is, for now, watched by snipers, tactical units and a coastguard cutter.

The carefully choreographed dinners and displays of bonhomie mask an almost palpable anxiety about how the meeting will go.

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