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Trade war

Trump says he and China's Xi had good exchange on trade

Two leaders prepare to hold first meeting in a year at G-20

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to meet for the first time in a year during the G-20 summit in Argentina this month.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- Discussions between the U.S. and China, including on trade, are "moving along nicely," President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.

"Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China," the tweet read. "We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade."

Trump and Xi are expected to meet for the first time in a year at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires this month. "Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina," Trump said in his tweet.

Xi said he was "very happy" to talk to the president again, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. He said he looked forward to the G-20 meeting and expressed hope that the two sides would promote a healthy and stable U.S.-China relationship.

Xi noted that when China and the U.S. had differences in the past over economic and trade issues, it had negative consequences for related industries and global trade. "This is something China does not want to see," Xi told Trump.

The two countries' economic teams should strengthen contact and consultations toward an acceptable trade solution for both sides, Xinhua cited Xi as saying.

Thursday's phone call marks a shift in attitude from comments made by Trump just days earlier.

Trump told Fox News in an interview on Monday that he wanted to make a deal with China but did not believe Beijing was ready. He also suggested that the U.S. is poised to impose an additional $267 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods on top of the $250 billion currently in place, if the two sides cannot reach a deal.

Media reports last month had indicated that trade might be left off the agenda in Buenos Aires.

But there remains skepticism that positive momentum in the Trump-Xi relationship is enough to break the trade impasse.

"It's healthy and encouraging and positive that President Trump and President Xi are in direct contact with each other," said Ryan Hass, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "While it is encouraging that the two leaders are looking ahead to their meeting at the G-20, a lot will depend upon the work that is done by both sides' teams in the intermediate two weeks."

"It's hard to imagine that a phone call followed by a meeting will be sufficient to untangle the knot that exists at the heart of the U.S.-China trade relationship right now," Hass said.

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