By Marco Mierke and Joanna Chiu
BEIJING (DPA) – US President Barack Obama landed in Beijing early Monday ahead of a summit of Asian-Pacific regional leaders in the Chinese capital.
He joins Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Premier Tony Abbott – who arrived over the weekend – and other political leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
Obama was due to hold talks with Abbott and new Indonesian President Joko Widodo on the sidelines of the summit. He is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinpin on Wednesday.
One of the key topics during the regional forum will be trade, where the United States and China are expected to push for progress on competing agreements.
During minister-level meetings on Saturday, members of APEC agreed to move forward on the Beijing-backed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) deal for Pacific countries.
For their part, US negotiators have reportedly agreed to tone down their plan for discussions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the APEC summit, and say any such talks will now be kept low-key, the South China Morning Post said.
On Monday, China and South Korea announced that they had "virtually" reached a free trade deal during a meeting between their leaders, a South Korean official said, according to Yonhap News Agency.
APEC is an inter-governmental forum with 21 member countries and regions, that seeks to promote sustainable growth and economic integration, and reduce trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific region.
A welcome dinner for the APEC leaders was to be held on Monday evening.