President Joe Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday. It is the first known conversation between the leaders in months.

The announcement arrives after the U.S. received information suggesting that China may be willing to provide Russia with military and financial assistance as it continues to battle Ukraine. It remains unclear if China will ultimately provide that assistance. 

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the meeting, telling reporters, “This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC. The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”

The call follows a many-hour long meeting in Rome recently held between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi. Sullivan, during the meeting, warned Yang of the “potential implications and consequences” for China, should it opt to support Russia’s invasion.

Some of Russia’s requests to China, such as non-perishable military food kits, emphasize the basic logistical and supply issues that the Russian military is facing. The Russian military has faced unexpected setbacks in the last weeks, but assistance from China could seriously undermine the hold Ukrainian forces still have in the country.

Next week, Biden will travel to Brussels to participate in a NATO summit centered on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – he will also join a European Council meeting.

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