BEIJING -- Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, on a private visit to China, told Vice Premier Qian Qichen Friday he was 'delighted' that Sino-U.S. relations have improved since the 1989 Beijing massacre, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Nixon, who as president forged the U.S. diplomatic opening to communist China in 1972, arrived Thursday night in Beijing for a weeklong visit.
Chinese Foreign Ministry officials said the visit was at the invitation of the Chinese government, but refused to release Nixon's itinerary. The U.S. Embassy also declined to give details.
Xinhua, quoting a Foreign Ministry official, said Nixon met for 40 minutes with Qian, also China's foreign minister, and 'exchanged views on Sino-U.S. relations and major international issues.'
The report quoted Nixon as saying he was 'delighted to see that U.S. -China relations have become more normal' since he last visited China in late October 1989, just four months after the Chinese army crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.
He also said China had made 'great and impressive economic achievements' since his 1989 visit.
The visit is Nixon's seventh to China. He is expected to meet with other Chinese leaders, but U.S. diplomats said privately they had no indication of a possible meeting with senior leader DengXiaoping.
Deng, 88, technically retired and in uneven health, rarely emerges in public and no longer meets with visiting foreign dignitaries.
Nixon, who served as president from January 1969 until he resigned over the Watergate scandal in 1974, is remembered fondly in China as the architect of the opening of relations with the United States.
Secret diplomacy led to Nixon's famed visit to China in February 1972, during which he sealed the so-called 'Shanghai communique' and opened the way to relations for the first time since the communists took power in 1949.