US, China to hold delayed diplomatic, security dialogue

High-level talks now set for Friday as world's two largest economies look for ways to resolve damaging trade war.

    Optimism before long-delayed meeting of top officials on trade war and security issues [Daisuke Suzuki/Pool via Reuters]
    Optimism before long-delayed meeting of top officials on trade war and security issues [Daisuke Suzuki/Pool via Reuters]

    The United States and China will hold top-level diplomatic and security talks in Washington, DC, on Friday, amid moves to try and resolve a damaging trade war.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe will take part in the discussions, a statement from US State Department said on Monday.

    China said last month the two sides initially agreed "in principle" to hold the second round of diplomatic security talks in October but they were postponed at Washington's request amid rising tensions over trade, Taiwan, and the South China Sea.

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    Monday's announcement came after US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by telephone last week and expressed optimism about resolving their trade dispute ahead of a high-stakes meeting at the end of November in Argentina on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. 

    'Fair' deal

    On Monday, Trump said China wanted to make a deal and added: "If we can make the right deal, a deal that's fair, we'll do that. Otherwise, we won't do it."

    Earlier on Monday, Xi promised at the start of a trade expo to lower tariffs, broaden market access and import more from overseas.

    Trump and Xi announced the updated negotiation framework last year and the first meeting in the format was held in June 2017 in Washington, when the two sides discussed issues including North Korea and the South China Sea.

    Since then relations have soured and they have become embroiled in a major trade war in which the United States has imposed tariffs on $250bn worth of Chinese goods, and China retaliated with tariffs on $110bn worth of US products.

    Trump has railed against China for what he sees as intellectual property theft, entry barriers to US business, and a gaping trade deficit.

    He has said if a deal is not made he could impose tariffs on another $267bn of Chinese imports and an across-the-board pressure campaign.

    Jim Sutter, CEO of the US Soybean Export Council, said both countries understood the need to maintain their relationship.

    "I think both sides are optimistic ... more optimistic after the call last week that took place, that some kind of a solution can be reached," he said.

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    SOURCE: Reuters