Trump, China’s Xi discuss trade ahead of talks next week

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed ongoing trade issues on Tuesday, as both sides continue to position themselves amid a heated feud over tariffs between the world’s two largest economies.

FILE PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on tax reform at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., May 5, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

The two leaders spoke after high-level U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing last week failed to reach a consensus, with talks set to resume next week in Washington.

Trump struck a positive tone in announcing the call earlier on Tuesday, calling Xi “my friend” and pledging in a post on Twitter that “good things will happen” on trade.

In a statement afterward, the White House said the U.S. president “affirmed his commitment to ensuring that the trade and investment relationship between the United States and China is balanced and benefits American businesses and workers.”

Chinese state media said Xi told Trump that the two countries should strive to find a way to properly resolve trade disputes.

China’s top economic official, Vice Premier Liu He, is scheduled to visit Washington next week to resume negotiations sparked by the Trump administration’s threat to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports.

Beijing has countered with its own planned tariffs on American goods.

The tariff threats have roiled U.S. and other stock markets in recent weeks amid fears that a trade war between the two economic powerhouses will hit global markets.

Trump won the White House in part over his harsh rhetoric on China and trade, and vowing to press Beijing over economic issues and make trade fair for the United States. Since taking office, he has also touted his personal relationship with Xi.

Last week, a seven-member U.S. delegation returned to Washington and briefed Trump on their meeting with Chinese counterparts.

American negotiators, led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, issued a lengthy list of demands, according to people familiar with the talks that the White House later called “frank” discussions. Chinese state media, after the meeting, struck a positive note.

Trump and Xi also discussed North Korea’s nuclear program during their call, according to both the White House and Chinese state media.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Makini Brice; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish

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