Joe Biden denied that Chinese president Xi Jinping rejected the idea of a summit on the 90-minute phone call that he had made last week. Sources, however, point out that the information is true. “Xi apparently intimated that the tone and atmosphere of the relationship needed to be improved first,” a source told Reuters.

According to Financial Times, instead of accepting the invite Xi Jinping told Biden that Washington should use a less stringent tone with China. When asked by reporters if Xi Jinping had turned down the offer, Biden said, “It’s not true.” Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan also said that the information is “not an accurate portrayal of the call.”

Joe Biden floated the summit as one of the possible engagements with Xi Jinping and he did not expect any immediate response from him. He thinks that the in decision for a person-to-person meeting with the Chinese president is not yet ripe due to Covid-19. The venue for the meeting is likely to be the G20 Summit in Italy on October. Jinping, however, has not moved out of China since the pandemic.

Sullivan was quoted saying that the two world leaders were having private discussions and this will be respected by them at all costs. A US official said that the communication over phone was supposed to be crucial in ending the stone-cold relationship between the US and China that is the worst compared to previous decades. This is the first call between the two countries in seven months.

The White House said that it will have the channels of communication open but it has no plans on follow-on engagements.