Trump plans to host China's Xi in April - media reports

U.S. President Donald Trump walks from Marine One as he returns to the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at a two-day summit next month, according to media reports, as his administration seeks to smooth relations with the world's second-largest economy.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 6-7 at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, U.S. online media outlet Axios reported on Monday, citing officials familiar with the plans.

CNN also reported the planned summit, citing an unnamed administration official. It added that the plan was tentative and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was expected to finalize plans during a trip this week to Asia, which includes a stop in China.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday the White House was preparing for a meeting between the two leaders but was not ready to announce a date.

"Planning is ongoing for a visit between President Trump and President Xi at a date to be determined," Spicer said, saying any meeting would cover North Korea and other issues.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The reported summit would follow a string of other recent U.S-China meetings and conversations aimed at mending ties after aggressive criticism of China by Trump during his election campaign.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who outranks his country's foreign minister, visited Washington last month to discuss the two countries' economic ties and security interests, including meetings with Trump and Tillerson.

During his campaign, Trump accused China of unfair trade policies, criticized its island-building in the strategic South China Sea claimed by several countries, and accused it of doing too little to constrain its neighbor, North Korea.

After his election, Trump incensed Beijing in December by taking a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and later saying the United States did not have to stick to the so-called "one China" policy.

Under that policy, Washington acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is a part. Trump later agreed in a phone call with Xi last month to honor the policy.

Trump has also written to Xi since he took office on Jan. 20, seeking "constructive ties."

Tillerson, making his first trip to Asia as secretary of state, is scheduled to visit China on Saturday and Sunday.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Roberta Rampton, Emily Stephenson, David Brunnstrom and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

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