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Trade war

Trump and Xi express hope for trade deal in 'very good' call

Chinese leader says he wants to 'meet each other halfway'

 Xi and Trump are seeking to deescalate the U.S.-Chinese battle over trade.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON/BEIJING -- U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that "big progress" was being made toward a trade deal with China after a telephone call with President Xi Jinping, whom a Chinese statement reported as eager for an agreement.

"Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China," Trump tweeted.

"Deal is moving along very well," the president added. "If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute."

According to China's Xinhua News Agency, Xi told Trump that he hoped both sides "can meet each other halfway and reach an agreement beneficial to both countries and the world as early as possible."

Teams from both countries are "actively working" to implement the consensus reached by the two leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina last month, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Trump agreed at the summit to hold off on new American tariffs against Chinese goods for 90 days. Trade talks face what U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has called a "hard deadline" of March 1 for a deal that satisfied both sides.

Xi told Trump that "China attaches great importance to the development of bilateral relations and appreciates the willingness of the U.S. side to develop cooperative and constructive bilateral relations," according to Xinhua.

A U.S. delegation is reportedly preparing travel to China in early January for trade talks.

Xi told Trump that "China attaches great importance to the development of bilateral relations and appreciates the willingness of the U.S. side to develop cooperative and constructive bilateral relations," according to Xinhua.

Concerns that the trade war is slowing China's economy hurt the yuan in 2018. With the year drawing to a close, the Chinese currency ended trading on Friday at 6.86 yuan to the dollar, 5.2% weaker than at the end of 2017. This marked the second-biggest annual decline since China adopted a managed floating exchange rate in 2005.

Foreign exchange market watchers expect the yuan to remain under pressure in 2019.

The redback weakened all the way to 6.97 yuan in October, a 10-year low against the dollar, only to recover in later weeks on hopes that the world's two largest economies could compromise in their dispute over trade and technology.

Trump and Xi also discussed North Korea during their call on Saturday, according to Xinhua. China hopes for continued talks between Washington and Pyongyang, the news agency reported Xi as saying.

Nikkei staff writer Takeshi Kihara in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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