One day before a much heralded summit, President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin will meet in the privacy of the White House residence late today to build a personal relationship that might help them narrow differences.
Administration officials said Monday the leaders would talk informally for about an hour without other officials present. It will be more of a social meeting than an attempt to address disputes about human rights, trade and arms sales, the officials said.
The purpose is to try to build the same kind of ties with Jiang that Clinton has found effective in problem-solving with other leaders such as Russia's Boris Yeltsin, Britain's Tony Blair and Germany's Helmut Kohl, said the officials.
Jiang will be officially welcomed to the White House on Wednesday. The two leaders will confer in the Oval Office, conduct a joint news conference and toast each other at a state dinner.
Jiang will arrive in Washington this afternoon from a rest stop in Williamsburg, Va.
Wednesday's meeting will be the first U.S.-China summit in 12 years. Administration officials say the meeting itself _ rather than any agreements _ is the most significant development.
Even so, Clinton and Jiang are expected to announce that China will limits arms exports to Iran and end nuclear cooperation with Tehran. That would clear the way for Clinton to approve the first export of advanced nuclear reactor technology to China.
The expected accord drew criticism from the chairmen of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees.
"We believe that implementation of this agreement .
. would be premature at a time when China continues its destabilizing transfers of nuclear, missile, chemical and biological weapons technology, and advanced conventional weapons," they wrote Clinton.