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Trade war

China delegation cancels US farm trip after trade talks wrap

Sudden change in schedule casts shadow over October negotiations

U.S. President Donald Trump faces a joint news conference with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Sept. 20.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- A Chinese trade delegation is heading back to Beijing earlier than scheduled, having canceled a planned visit to U.S. farms after mid-level trade talks wrapped in Washington.

The sudden itinerary change, confirmed Friday by the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, is putting a damper on U.S.-China trade optimism, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 200 points.

The Chinese officials skipping the farm visit, led by Vice Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Jun, were part of the delegation in the U.S. for preliminary trade talks, ahead of cabinet-level negotiations to take place in Washington next month.

In a brief statement Friday, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative sounded a positive note on the talks."These discussions were productive, and the United States looks forward to welcoming a delegation from China for principal-level meetings in October," the statement said.

High hopes were set for trade talks this week in Washington, which came after both sides softened trade tensions this month with such gestures as tariff exemptions and delays.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had told reporters on Thursday that the delegation would visit American farms next week.

President Donald Trump had also said earlier this week that China was making large quantities of agricultural purchases from the U.S.

"They are starting to buy our farm products big league," he said in a tweet Tuesday.

At a White House press conference Friday, Trump told reporters that his relationship with President Xi Jinping is "doing very well," though the two are having a "little spat."

"We are looking for a complete deal," he stressed. "I am not looking for a partial deal."

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