WASHINGTON (REUTERS, AFP, XINHUA) – United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (June 18) that he had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping and that the two leaders’ teams would restart trade talks after a long lull in order to prepare for a meeting at the Group of 20 summit later this month.
The US and China are in the middle of a costly trade war that has pressured financial markets and damaged the world economy. Talks between the two sides to reach a broad deal broke down last month and interaction since then has been limited.
Mr Trump has made no secret that, despite his threat to escalate the dispute with more US tariffs on Chinese goods, he would like to meet Mr Xi at the G-20 meeting in Japan next week.
Though he has repeatedly said the two parties would talk, the Chinese side has not confirmed that a meeting would take place.
In a Twitter post, Mr Trump said he and his Chinese counterpart had agreed to start preparations during a phone call.
"Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting," Mr Trump tweeted.
Those remarks eased concerns that such a meeting would not take place, which would have been seen as a snub to Washington and possibly have triggered another round of tariffs.
Following Mr Trump's comments, Mr Xi said in a statement that China and the US should solve problems through equal dialogue, Xinhua reported.
"China and the US will mutually benefit from good relations and mutually suffer from fighting. The two countries should, in accordance with the consensus reached, promote Sino-US relations, cooperation and stability based on mutual respect and mutual benefit," he said, according to Xinhua.
"The key is to take care of each other's legitimate concerns. We also hope that the US will treat Chinese companies fairly," he said, adding that the trade teams of the two countries will maintain communication on how to resolve their differences.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that the US wants to continue trade discussions with China that focus on structural changes and enforcement mechanisms when the talks continue at the G-20 summit.
"The United States wants to continue the conversations about structural changes regarding intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers and market openings and tariffs," Mr Kudlow said in an interview with Fox News
Mr Trump’s tweet sparked a rally on Wall Street, where the multi-front trade battles have repeatedly rankled investors worried about dented corporate profits and disruption to one of the major axes of global trade. Mr Trump last week threatened to "immediately" jack up tariffs should Mr Xi fail to show up at the meeting. The US already has 25 per cent duties on more than US$250 billion (S$341 billion) of imports from China.
In addition to trade, Mr Xi and Mr Trump are expected to discuss US-led efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.
Ahead of the G-20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan, Mr Xi will make the first visit to North Korea by a Chinese president in 14 years.