China is keen to ensure a smooth G20 summit, its highest profile event of the year, as it looks to cement its global standing and avoid acrimony over a long list of tensions with Washington. Obama, attending his last gathering of the world's 20 major economies before stepping down in January, wants to stress the urgency of curbing global climate change and to urge other leaders to use fiscal policy to boost economic growth.

The trip also potentially marks Obama's final meeting as president with Xi. During his eight-year presidency, the two countries have grappled with hacking incidents and differences over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"I know that we will have once again candid conversations about some of those differences: issues like human rights or cyber or maritime," Obama told Xi at the start of their meeting.

The visit got off to a rocky start when a Chinese government official angrily scuffled with Obama's top national security adviser, Susan Rice, at the airport, and yelled at a press aide. In recent months, China has been incensed by a ruling against its claims in the South China Sea by an international court, a case initiated by Manila but blamed by Beijing on Washington.

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