Chinese President Xi Jinping had a rare face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday. The two leaders met outside of San Francisco for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Biden said the purpose of the meeting was "to understand each other."
"As always, there's no substitute to face-to-face discussions," he said, adding that he and Xi "haven't always agreed" in the past.
Following the four-hour meeting, Biden said talks with Xi made "real progress."
"I value the conversation I had today with President Xi," Biden said on X, formerly Twitter. "And today, we made real progress."
Biden was then asked at a news conference if he believed Xi was a dictator, to which he responded: "Well look he is, I mean he's a dictator in the sense that he's a guy who's running a country, a Communist country, that's based on a form of government totally different than ours."
Biden had made similar comments earlier this year, sparking fierce backlash in Beijing.
Biden and Xi discuss Israel's war against Hamas
Biden and Xi discussed the unfolding crisis in the Middle East, with Biden asking China to influence Iran to avoid taking steps that could be seen as provocative, a senior US official told reporters.
Chinese officials reportedly told US officials they they had engaged in discussions with Iran on the risks of a regional spillover from the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
Biden also pressed Xi to continue to withhold military support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Greater communications at military level, AI
Biden and Xi agreed to restore some military-to-military communications between their armed forces at a time when unprofessional incidents between the two nations' ships and aircraft have spiked.
Xi said after the meeting that he and Biden agreed to resume high-level military dialogues on the basis of equity and respect, according to a statement released by Xinhua state news agency.
The leaders also agreed to set up joint government talks on the use of artificial intelligence, as well as a working group on counternarcotics cooperation, Xinhua said.
Biden said they agreed to high-level communications too. "He [Xi] and I agreed that each one of us can pick up the phone call directly and we'll be heard immediately."