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Trump described Xi, the Chinese president, as a friend and patriot, refraining from offering any remarks on the death of Liu, a prominent dissident who lost his life to cancer while in detention.
Of Xi, Trump said: "He's a friend of mine. I have great respect for him.
That praise was echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who described as "extremely fruitful and positive" his first contacts with Xi.
The French leader later paid tribute to Liu in a tweet, praising him as "a freedom fighter" and saying his thoughts were with his family.
Earlier Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised Liu and called for his wife to be released.
"Mr Liu dedicated his life to the betterment of his country and humankind, and to the pursuit of justice and liberty," Tillerson said in a statement.
"I call on the Chinese government to release Liu Xia from house arrest and allow her to depart China, according to her wishes.
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