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Xi open to trade deal while staying 'patient' over Hinkley

The issue of Hinkley Point was not explicitly mentioned in talks between Theresa May and Xi Jinping. Credit: PA

Chinese president Xi Jinping has hinted he is willing to remain patient over the Hinkley nuclear project as he raised the prospect of a major free trade deal between the UK and China in private talks with Theresa May.

A Number 10 official said Mr Xi understood why the new Prime Minister felt the need to take a fresh look at agreements made by David Cameron's administration, which saw her surprisingly delay the Chinese-backed Hinkley Point plant.

Although the project was not mentioned in the talks after the G20 summit, the official said President Xi "recognised the new Government would need to take some time before reaching decisions on some agreements pushed by the last government".

"President Xi said that they had the patience to wait for a resolution on those issues," the official added. "He said that they wanted to look at how we could strengthen our trading and economic relationship and that China was open to a bilateral trade arrangement with the UK."

Mrs May said she was hoping to visit China next year as President Xi welcomed her commitment to continuing what she described as a "golden era" in relations with Beijing.

Downing Street said the 30-minute meeting was "warm" with Mr Xi even commending the UK on Team GB's second-placed finish above China in the Rio Olympics' medals table.

Theresa May: China partnership more than Hinkley Point

Hinkley Point power station Credit: Reuters

Theresa May has said Britain and China were enjoying a "global strategic partnership" that would not be derailed by her decision on whether to back a part-Chinese funded power station at Hinkley Point.

Speaking at the G20 summit on Monday, the Prime Minister said: "I have been clear that a decision about Hinkley will be taken later this month, but our relationship with China is about more than Hinkley."

The British government's decision to delay the £18bn nuclear plan upset China, who are one of the backers of the scheme.

She added: "If you look at the investment that there has been from China in various other parts of the United Kingdom and other infrastructure and so forth in the UK, we have built a global strategic partnership with China.

"I've been clear we will be continuing that global strategic partnership with China. It is a golden era of the relations between China and the UK, and I will have an opportunity later this evening to take forward those discussions."

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Obama calls for immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets US President Barack Obama Credit: Reuters

Barack Obama has said he and Vladimir Putin held a "candid, blunt [and] businesslike" meeting on Syria.

Obama confirmed US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will continue talks on "ways in which we can institute a meaningful, serious, verifiable cessation of hostilities in Syria."

He added the US needed to act fast "to provide some humanitarian relief to families, children, women who are suffering enormously under the burdens of that war.

"We're back into a situation in which Assad's regime is bombing with impunity - that in turn is actually strengthening the capacity of Al-Nusra to recruit people who might not have been sympathetic to terrorism.

"In our view anyone who is fighting against Assad is legitimised - and that is a very dangerous dynamic.... we need to focus our attention on common enemies, like ISIL and Al-Nusra.

"The faster we can provide some relief to folks on the ground, the better off we're going to be", he added.

Barack Obama hails his tenth and final G20 summit

Barack Obama addressed the media after his final G20 meeting Credit: Pool

Barack Obama has hailed the "clear, candid, direct and constructive" G20 summit which he said strengthened US-China relations.

In his tenth and final meeting, the US President said: "More than ever our economies are interconnected and we've got more work to do to keep the global economy growing.

"We have to grow wages faster, to shrink inequality faster, to give everybody a shot at opportunity and security in a changing economy.

"That should be the way forward for the G20 - to make sure the benefits of trends like globalisation and technological progress are shared broadly by more workers and families who feel the global economy isn't working for them.

"We committed all of our policy tools to create robust, inclusive growth that creates opportunity for young people and the middle class that they're working to join.

"If there's anything that the past eight years have taught us, is that the complicated challenges of the 21st Century cannot be met without coordinated and collective action", he added.

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