Canada PM says he hopes to meet China's Xi one day once tensions defused

APEC Summit in San Francisco

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said he hoped to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping once the two sides had put in the work needed to repair badly strained bilateral ties.

China and Canada have had poor relations for years amid disagreements over human rights and complaints by Ottawa about alleged Chinese interference in the last two elections.

Trudeau, who is at an APEC summit in San Francisco, said he had had "a good exchange" with Xi on the sidelines of the meeting and told the Chinese leader the two sides needed to try to create a constructive dialogue.

"I think people realise to what extent we have had our differences and major challenges in our relations with China in recent years," he told a televised news conference.

"There is a gradual engagement which is continuing and will lead - I hope - to an eventual meeting but I don't think we are at that point yet."

At the G20 summit last year, the two leaders had a testy exchange in front of cameras after Canadian officials said Trudeau had expressed concerns to Xi over about alleged espionage and election interference.

Xi had a four-hour meeting with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the APEC summit. Biden subsequently said he had not changed his view that Xi was effectively a dictator.

Asked whether he agreed with this assessment, Trudeau replied: "China's a one party state. I don't think anyone would call it a democracy."

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft)