Trump and Xi expected to meet face to face on trade next month

United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet "some time in March".
United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet "some time in March".PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet next month, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) official has said, as the two countries try to hammer out a deal to end a tit-for-tat tariff battle.

The presidents are expected to meet "some time in March", USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky said at a renewable fuels industry conference on Wednesday.

But no dates have been set for the meeting as yet, he said.

Mr Trump has said that he does not expect to meet Mr Xi prior to March 1, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has raised the possibility of a meeting between the leaders at the President's personal retreat at Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

They are the "only two" who can nail down a comprehensive trade deal between the two countries, Ms Sanders said on Fox News.

Asked whether the Trump-Xi meeting will take place at Mar-a-Lago, Ms Sanders replied: "It certainly could be; it would be a great venue."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said she noted that Mr Trump had said many times he wished to meet Mr Xi, and that China was willing to maintain "close contact" with the US side. However, she added that she had no information to share on any visit by Mr Xi.

 
 

Mr Trump's advisers have previously described March 1 as a "hard deadline" for the US and China to reach a deal on trade.

Ms Sanders on Wednesday also told Fox News that the final agreement depends on Mr Trump and Mr Xi meeting in person.

A deal between China and the United States "will ultimately take... President Trump and President Xi sitting down face to face", the White House Press Secretary said.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2019, with the headline 'Trump and Xi expected to meet face to face on trade next month'. Print Edition | Subscribe