PALM BEACH, Florida (AFP/REUTERS) - The agenda for the 24-hour summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping has purposely been left open, allowing the leaders to freewheel and build a rapport.
Matt Pottinger, a top White House Asia expert who was tasked with planning the summit, promised a "relaxed interaction" despite a backdrop of tensions over trade and North Korea.
Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan drove down a palm-lined driveway past a military honour guard to Trump's Spanish-style Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, welcomed by Trump and his wife Melania before going inside.
The couples posed for pictures sitting on sofas in the resort's formal living room on Thursday evening (Friday morning April 7, Singapore time), before dinner in a candle-lit ornate private dining room. The dining table was set for about 30 people and festooned with red and yellow floral centrepieces.
The leaders will "have an opportunity to have tea together, meet some of their senior cabinet officials, so to speak, on both sides, and have a dinner," said Pottinger.
The talks will continue up to a working lunch on Friday local time.
Amid concerns about security and public perceptions, officials said Xi and his wife will not be staying at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, but at a resort and spa a short drive down the palm-fringed coast that is, for now, watched by snipers, tactical units and a coastguard cutter.