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White House says Biden described consequences to Xi of providing support to Russia

Biden warns of consequences if China aids Russia
Biden warns Xi of consequences if China aids Russia 02:16

Washington — President Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping for nearly two hours Friday morning, as the U.S. tries to manage China's ties to Russia amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine

Mr. Biden "described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians," a White House readout of the call said. But the White House would not say whether Xi agreed not to provide material support to China, nor did  the White House say whether Mr. Biden threatened sanctions if China does. 

Instead, the White House says the point of the call was for the president to clearly lay out the position of the U.S. and its allies. 

"The president wasn't really making specific requests of China," a senior administration official said. "He was laying out his assessment of the situation."

The official said the White House would leave it to the PRC to characterize Xi's reaction.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, "President Xi pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this. China stands for peace and opposes war. This is embedded in China's history and culture. ... China has put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and is ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries."

President Biden's call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mar. 18, 2022 White House

Mr. Biden and Xi last spoke in November for a virtual summit that lasted more than three hours. Their call Friday came days after a meeting between White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday, which was described by a senior administration official as an "intense, seven-hour session."

An official who briefed reporters on Sullivan's meeting said the Biden administration has "deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia" as it continues its attacks in Ukraine, and Sullivan was "direct" about the consequences of "certain actions."

The White House said Sullivan had "raised a range of issues in U.S.-China relations, with substantial discussion of Russia's war against Ukraine" and underscored the "importance of maintaining open lines of communication" between the U.S. and China.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang at State Department Friday, hours after Mr. Biden's conversation with Xi. 

While many countries have distanced themselves from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago and have united in imposing steep costs on Moscow, Russia has turned to China for support and sought military aid and equipment, two U.S. officials told CBS News earlier this week.

Chinese and Russian officials each denied that Moscow sought assistance from Beijing.

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