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President Biden held a news conference after his meeting with China's Xi Jinping


Today about 30 miles south of San Francisco at a luxe, historic estate, President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping sat down together for a conversation that's been a long time coming. Biden has tried to put China at the center of his foreign policy, but other crises in other parts of the world have overshadowed his push, including the war between Israel and Hamas. Biden has just given a press conference where he talked about these very issues.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again like they did before - do everything from cutting babies' heads off to burning women and children alive. And so the idea that they're going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic.

CHANG: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson was listening to the president speak tonight and joins us now. Hi, Mara.


CHANG: OK, so normally, the face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi would have been what's going to be in all the headlines. But tonight Biden did face some pretty tough questions on his support for Israel and response to the October 7 attack by Hamas. What stood out to you?

LIASSON: Well, first of all - we'll get to it later - but it was important that he met with Xi.

CHANG: Yes, first time in years.

LIASSON: But he did - he was asked about Israel, how long this would go on, and he made some news. He said he made it very clear to Bibi Netanyahu that the ultimate answer is a two-state solution. He says this will not end until there are two states, a Palestinian and Israeli state, living side by side in the Middle East. And that was important. He also said that he's working on this with Arab countries because there have to be - somebody other than Hamas and Israel is going to have to guarantee the security of the West Bank and Gaza.

CHANG: Right. OK, so let's get to the other part you mentioned. How did Biden's talks go with Xi Jinping today? What's your sense?

LIASSON: Well, I think there were low expectations for the meeting, and they were met. But there were some agreements. For instance, they made an agreement for - that China would start to crack down on the precursor chemicals that make fentanyl. In an earlier agreement, China agreed to stop shipping fentanyl, and apparently, they have. But they continued to ship the chemicals that you make fentanyl with. And now there's an agreement where they're going to cut back on that. Now, that would make a huge difference in the United States. Whereas the president said fentanyl is the major cause of death for certain groups of young people - more than guns, more than car accidents, you know, and it's a real problem. And also, they agreed to have military-to-military communication, which is very important to superpowers at odds in many conflicts. You don't want there to be a misunderstanding or a mistake.

CHANG: Right. Well, as the president was traveling to California, the House voted to pass a funding bill, as you know. But that bill left out the billions of dollars that Biden wanted for things like Israel and Ukraine. So can you talk about - what does that mean for Biden, that missing funding?

LIASSON: Well, I think there is hope on the part of the White House and on the part of many of Israel's supporters in Congress that support for Israel will come in a later piece of legislation. But support for Ukraine is really hanging in the balance because it's - the support for Ukraine is diminishing among Republicans. Remember, Donald Trump has a very specific animus against Ukraine. He doesn't like Volodymyr Zelenskyy. That's why he got impeached.

CHANG: Right.

LIASSON: So that's unclear, but I do think there's still hope that the Israel aid will pass.

CHANG: That is NPR's Mara Liasson. Thank you so much tonight, Mara.

LIASSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.