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After days of being flattered, Trump bestows compliments, calls China's leader 'a very special man'

Brian Bennett and Noah Bierman, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

At one point, just after the two leaders walked past the troops standing in formation, Trump seemed more eager to assert his dominance and take control of the pace of the event. He patted Xi on the back and told the Chinese leader he wanted to "stop to watch" the military band. Xi stood at Trump's side and waited. "Beautiful," Trump said.

Trump relished the neat rows of children -- jumping and cheering and waving Chinese and U.S. flags.

Along the streets of Beijing, red banners inscribed with white Mao Tse-tung-era Chinese characters encouraged citizens to study and follow "Xi Jinping thought."

The Xi meeting, buffing up one of the important relationships in Trump's presidency, is likely to be followed by a second summit eliciting intense interest.

Trump is set to head to Da Nang, Vietnam, on Friday for an economic conference also being attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian officials said Trump and Putin will meet there, but U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was noncommittal, saying it was unclear if the two leaders would sit down or talk briefly while standing on the sidelines of the conference.

"If we're going to have a meeting with them, make sure it's a meeting that's meaningful," Tillerson said, adding that a list of important issues that could come up includes Russian actions in the Syrian conflict and the border dispute in Ukraine.

The meeting is likely to be controversial, given the accelerating investigation at home into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives involving Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

Asked if that matter is something Trump will talk to Putin about, Tillerson said, "It stays on that list."

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