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The Latest: Melania Trump visits pandas at Beijing zoo

By The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's trip to Asia (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump has checked out the pandas at the Beijing zoo, before being serenaded in English and Chinese by elementary school children.

Mrs. Trump watched with students from the Shija elementary school as one panda chomped down on a late breakfast of bamboo shoots and leaves. She then presented the students with gifts of plush bald eagle toys.

Parts of the zoo in Beijing's western fringe were shut down for the visit, but Wang Xumei, pushing her 1-year-old granddaughter in a stroller, says she wasn't put off. Wang says Melania Trump is very beautiful and "we're happy to have her and the American president in Beijing."

Wang adds that Mrs. Trump should "come back soon."

___

6:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump has saluted the "growing friendship" between the United States and China.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump were the guests of honor at a state dinner Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Trump offered a toast to Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng), touting bonds "that will only grow stronger and stronger."

He then introduced a video of his granddaughter Arabella, the daughter of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, singing a traditional Chinese song in Mandarin.

The dinner capped off two days of pageantry and negotiations between Xi and Trump. At the dinner, neither man made mention of thorny issues like trade and attempts to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

__

6:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is attending a state dinner in his honor in Beijing.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived at the Great Hall of the People Thursday evening.

The dinner was held in the Golden Hall, featuring crystal chandeliers, hanging lanterns and ornate traditional Chinese artwork.

The Trumps were greeted with a standing ovation and a video featuring clips of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Trump's Florida estate in February and the US president's ongoing two-day visit to Beijing.

Xi gave a toast in which he said the relationship between China and the US was growing by the day. He added that the two nations faced "limited challenges but boundless potential for growth."

Among the guests at the dinner: China native and former NBA star Yao Ming.

__

5:30 p.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that when it comes to making progress on trade discussions with China, the accomplishments so far are "pretty small."

Tillerson spoke to reporters as Trump was wrapping up his second and final day in China. Tillerson says: "There is a lot of work left to do."

Trump earlier called on China to address unfair trade practices that drive what he called a "shockingly" large trade deficit.

But Trump stopped short of castigating Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng), saying he didn't blame the country for having taken advantage of past U.S. administrations.

__

5 p.m.

Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) of China are presenting a united front following two days of meetings despite lingering differences over trade and North Korea.

Trump criticized the "very one-sided and unfair" trade relationship between the two countries, but said he doesn't blame the country for having taken advantage of the U.S. He says the two have made great progress on economic and security issue.

But Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is offering a blunter assessment:

He says, "in the grand scheme of a $3- to 500 billion trade deficit, the things that have been achieved are pretty small."

Trump heads to Vietnam on Friday for the first of two summits during his trip to Asia.

It's unclear whether he'll meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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