A shadow looks to have been lifted over the APEC summit in San Francisco as it heads to the sharp end of its week as hosts USA and rival China looked to have restored some balance in to their relationship.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spent four hours at a retreat to work out how to communicate and co-operate to ease the tensions that have soured relations over recent years.
Biden called the talks constructive and productive as the pair agreed to resume communication between their military establishments, agreed to co-operate on cracking down on the production of synthetic opioids, and work on the risk and safety of artificial intelligence.
"Were back to direct, open clear direct communication on a direct basis," Biden said.
"He and I agreed that each one of us can pick up the phone, call directly and we'll be heard immediately."
But a range of issues continued to separate them - notably US support for Taiwan, a range of tariffs or export bans of key items such as semiconductors, or the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Xi had called on the US to stop arming Taiwan and to support China's reunification with the island and said that he hoped Biden would lift sanctions that impact China.
The summit outcome was seen as a cautious first step on improving links.
A poor result would have cast a wider pall over the APEC summit, and added to the existing difficulties in terms of getting some sort of final statement.
As a global body it often underwhelms, reaching non-binding commitments by consensus and trusting to members to implement as they see fit.
An official, who declined to be identified, said the US-China summit would add "positivity" to APEC discussions, although the tensions within the group could not be papered over.
The summit has been taking place behind a ring of three-metre high mesh fences and security to keep out a plethora of protests, ranging from Palestinian supporters, anti-capitalist campaigners, climate change activists, and critics and supporters of China.
The protests have generally been small in size but loud in volume and sometimes with an angry mood, although incidents have been few and far between.
However, two New Zealanders were caught up near the convention centre where APEC is taking place with one official jostled near an entry point and another participant in an associated business gathering abused and spat at.
Flying the flag
In the absence of a prime minister, outgoing Trade Minister Damien O'Connor has been flying the New Zealand flag, attending all the necessary gatherings but unable to do any of the formal bi-lateral discussions with other political leaders, which offer opportunities for diplomacy or action, on the sidelines of APEC.
However, New Zealand's diminished representation has attracted no "negativity", a spokesperson said.
O'Connor has been participating in tandem discussions over the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which have resulted in a review of the deal to freshen it up, look for new areas to speed up and smooth trade, as well as looking at aspiring new members including Ukraine, China and Taiwan.
Whether APEC's final statement will be as easily reached is in the balance.
The Gaza conflict has emerged in the same way that the Ukraine war did last year, with Indonesia and Malaysia pushing for discussion and some reference in the final statement.