(NUSA DUA, Indonesia) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed to resume climate change talks with the United States, President Joe Biden said Monday, three months after Xi suspended those contacts in anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
China and the U.S. are the world’s No. 1 and 2 climate polluters. Resumption of what’s been the two countries’ give-some-and-get-some negotiations on climate efforts is seen as crucial to achieving the massive cuts in use of coal and other fossil fuels needed to slow global warming.
Biden and Jinping met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Both committed Monday to directing their governments’ senior officials to “maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts” on matters including climate change and security of the world food supply, the White House said.
John Kerry’s one-on-one relationship with his Chinese government counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, proved pivotal to striking the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord. Kerry was then secretary of state and is now Biden’s climate envoy. Persuading China to move much faster to cut its reliance on dirty-burning coal has been a main — and so far unrealized — effort of Kerry’s climate diplomacy under Biden.
Ani Dasgupta, head of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement Monday that the global community “was breathing a sigh of relief” at news the two nations were resuming joint climate efforts.
Xi in August mustered a range of military and diplomatic measures, including stepped up military maneuvers and severing of contacts on a range of trade and other matters, to demonstrate China’s displeasure at Pelosi’s trip to self-ruled Taiwan. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
Appearing before cameras ahead of their meeting Monday, Biden told Xi the world expects the U.S. and China “to be able to work together” on key issues, including climate change and global food shortages.
“The United States stands ready to do just that – work with you – if that’s what you desire,” Biden told Xi.
Xi’s and Biden’s tensions-easing meeting came as government representatives from around the world are gathered in Egypt for a U.N. climate summit aimed at getting nations to follow through on pledges to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel emissions, and to do more still.
Kerry and Xie had informal contacts during the two nations’ break on climate cooperation, focused on what would help get the joint dialogue started again.
Xi and Biden also agreed to resume the same kind of top-level contacts on other matters critical to global stability, including debt relief, the White House said.
Knickmeyer reported from Washington.
More Must-Reads From TIME