The talks took place at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference.
Emerging from their first face-to-face meeting in a year, US President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping vowed to stabilise their fraught relationship.
But there were still deep differences on economic competition and global security threats.
The most assuring takeaway from the meeting for Biden was that if either man had a concern, "we should pick up the phone and call one another and we'll take the call. That's important progress," he said in a news conference following the talks.
Another positive sign: Xi signalled later Wednesday that China would send the US new pandas, just a week after three from the Smithsonian National Zoo were returned to China much to the dismay of Americans. There are only four left in the United States - at the Atlanta Zoo, and their loan agreement expires next year.
The two leaders spent four hours together at a bucolic Northern California estate - in meetings, a working lunch and a garden stroll - intent on showing the world that while they are global economic competitors they're not locked in a winner-take-all faceoff.
"Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed," Xi told Biden.
The US president told Xi: "I think it's paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader-to-leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunications. We have to ensure competition does not veer into conflict."
Their meeting, on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, has far-reaching implications for a world grappling with economic cross currents, conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, tensions in Taiwan and more.