Apr 5, 2017

The odd-couple summit with Trump and Xi Jinping

Evan Vucci / AP

White House insiders tell me that when the president meets the other most powerful man in the world, China's Xi Jinping, at Mar-a-Lago tomorrow, expect Trump to be cordial in public, tough(ish) in private.

Trump plans to tell Xi behind the scenes that he will stick up for the country in a way that his predecessors didn't. But for the cameras, Trump will play the cordial host — his natural mien.

Trump isn't expected to make as big a point of human-rights issues as some of his conservative backers would like.

Axios' all-terrain Jonathan Swan, after his "Morning Joe" debut, jumped on a White House summit preview call late yesterday, where senior officials said Trump's primary purpose will be to "put a framework in place" to help the two leaders work through their disagreements on everything from trade to North Korea. Other takeaways:

  • Trump has little interest in dealing with global warming. When a reporter asked the officials about the subject, they quickly pivoted to North Korea.
  • South China Sea incursions: An official said it was "no secret" that Trump was "disturbed by the activities that took place under the last administration."
  • Swan's read: Trump loved dealing one-on-one during his real estate career, and we wouldn't be surprised if he elevates more of the conversations with China to the leader-to-leader level.

And, as Axios AM told you when we broke the story of the Mar-a-Lago summit, there won't be any golf.

Chaser ... About an hour after an official on the call warned North Korea that "the clock has now run out and all options are on the table," Pyongyang fired "a newly developed powerful ballistic missile."

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