US, CHINA TO RESTART TALKS

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY PETER BAKER AND KEITH BRADSHER

The Chi­nese and US pres­i­dents agreed Sat­ur­day to re­sume trade talks, avert­ing for now an es­ca­la­tion of a tar­iff war.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China agreed on Sat­ur­day to re­sume trade talks af­ter a sev­en­week break­down, avert­ing for now an es­ca­la­tion of their multi­bil­lion-dol­lar tar­iff war that has roiled global mar­kets and threat­ened the fu­ture of the world’s two largest economies.

The agree­ment, bro­kered dur­ing more than an hour of dis­cus­sion be­tween the lead­ers, did not by it­self sig­nal any ma­jor break­through in re­solv­ing the fun­da­men­tal con­flict. But it rep­re­sented a tem­po­rary cease-fire to give ne­go­tia­tors an­other chance to forge a per­ma­nent ac­cord gov­ern­ing the vast flow of goods and ser­vices be­tween the two na­tions.

“We dis­cussed a lot of things, and we’re right back on track,” Trump told re­porters af­ter his ses­sion with Xi on the side­lines of the an­nual sum­mit meet­ing of the Group of 20 na­tions in Osaka, Ja­pan. “We had a very, very good meet­ing with China,” the pres­i­dent added, “I would say prob­a­bly even bet­ter than ex­pected, and the ne­go­ti­a­tions are con­tin­u­ing.”

Trump promised to hold off on his threat to slap new 25% tar­iffs on $300 bil­lion in Chi­nese im­ports, and he agreed to lift some re­stric­tions on Huawei, the Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy gi­ant at the cen­ter of a dis­pute be­tween the na­tions.

In ex­change, he said, China agreed to buy a “tremen­dous amount” of Amer­i­can food and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts. “We will give them a list of things we want them to buy,” he said.

Even as he re­turned to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble with China, Trump pur­sued a sur­prise ini­tia­tive to lure North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, back into talks, as well. In re­sponse to his Twit­ter in­vi­ta­tion to meet Sun­day at the De­mil­i­ta­rized Zone di­vid­ing North and South Korea, the pres­i­dent said Kim “was very re­cep­tive,” and the two sides scram­bled Sat­ur­day to see whether they could ar­range such an en­counter at the last minute.

“I un­der­stand that we may be meet­ing with Chair­man Kim,” Trump told re­porters. “We won’t call it a sum­mit. We’ll call it a hand­shake, if it does hap­pen.” Asked if he would be will­ing to cross over the line into North Korea for that hand­shake, he said: “Sure I would. I’d feel very com­fort­able do­ing that. I would have no prob­lem.”

For Trump, who loves the the­ater of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs and rel­ishes un­pre­dictabil­ity, such a head-snap­ping turn of events would be the cap­stone to an event­ful trip to Asia. He has jug­gled a va­ri­ety of high-stakes dis­putes over se­cu­rity, eco­nom­ics and other is­sues, while keep­ing an eye on the emerg­ing Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial cam­paign back home.

His wrap-up news con­fer­ence be­fore leav­ing Osaka for Seoul was a quin­tes­sen­tial Trump per­for­mance. He roamed widely, some­times in free as­so­ci­a­tion, weigh­ing in not just on Asian is­sues, but also on the border sit­u­a­tion at home, var­i­ous court bat­tles and his eco­nomic record. And for good mea­sure, he threw in an un­pro­voked jab at Hil­lary Clin­ton, still his fa­vorite punch­ing bag.

Trump also left be­hind a stink bomb for his host, Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe of Ja­pan, di­vulging that he had told the premier that the 68-year-old Ja­panese-Amer­i­can de­fense treaty, which has long been the foundation of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two na­tions, should be over­hauled. It is, in his view, not fair to the United States. “I told him, I said, ‘We’re go­ing to have to change it,’ ” he said.

A meet­ing with Kim, fol­low­ing two oth­ers in the past year over his nu­clear ar­se­nal, would not be his only ses­sion with an au­thor­i­tar­ian ruler dur­ing his visit to the re­gion. Dur­ing his news con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day, he de­fended his ap­proach to meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia and the Saudi crown prince, Mo­hammed bin Sal­man.

He is­sued a par­tic­u­larly strong de­fense of Prince Mo­hammed, all but ex­on­er­at­ing him in the murder and dis­mem­ber­ment of Ja­mal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Post.

“No­body, so far, has pointed a fin­ger di­rectly” at the crown prince, Trump said, ig­nor­ing the fact that Amer­i­can and in­ter­na­tional in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have done just that. His own CIA has de­ter­mined that Prince Mo­hammed or­dered the killing, and a United Na­tions in­ves­ti­ga­tor found cred­i­ble ev­i­dence to make a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion.

In­stead, Trump in­di­cated that he ac­cepted the crown prince’s ex­pla­na­tion that the

Saudi gov­ern­ment was pros­e­cut­ing those who com­mit­ted the murder. “A lot of peo­ple are be­ing pros­e­cuted, and they’re tak­ing it very se­ri­ously there,” the pres­i­dent said. He as­serted that Prince Mo­hammed was up­set over the murder. “He’s very an­gry about it,” Trump said. “He’s very un­happy about it.” As for Putin, he again brushed off the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies’ con­clu­sion that Rus­sia had in­ter­fered in the 2016 elec­tion on his be­half. A day af­ter mak­ing light of it by jok­ingly telling Putin in front of cam­eras “don’t med­dle in the elec­tion,” Trump dis­missed crit­i­cism that he was not tak­ing it se­ri­ously enough. “Well, I did say it,” he ar­gued. He said the is­sue came up in his pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion with Putin, but noted that the Rus­sian leader had again de­nied it, an as­ser­tion with which he did not pub­licly quar­rel. In­deed, Trump said he might ac­cept an in­vi­ta­tion by Putin to visit Moscow next spring for the 75th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II.

He also tried to smooth over a rift with Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan of Turkey about his coun­try’s pur­chase of S-400 mis­sile de­fense systems from Rus­sia. Trump blamed Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion for the dis­pute and ac­knowl­edged that he might have to im­pose sanc­tions re­quired by law, but said he hoped to avoid that. “It’s a prob­lem, there’s no ques­tion about it,” Trump said with Er­do­gan at his side as the two pre­pared to meet be­hind closed doors. “We’re look­ing at dif­fer­ent so­lu­tions.”

But the talks with China, with so much at stake for both sides, were the cen­ter­piece of the trip. The lat­est pause in the trade war seemed to be a re­peat of sorts of what hap­pened at the last G-20 sum­mit meet­ing, in De­cem­ber in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina. There, Trump and Xi also met and agreed to post­pone fur­ther tar­iffs pend­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions and more soy­bean purchases by Bei­jing. The ques­tion is whether the new open­ing will yield any bet­ter re­sult.

The “two sides are highly har­mo­nious, and the ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion are broad,” Xi said, ac­cord­ing to The Peo­ple’s Daily, an of­fi­cial Chi­nese news out­let. “They should not fall into the trap of so­called con­flict con­fronta­tion, but should pro­mote each other and de­velop to­gether.” The big­gest ques­tion over Sat­ur­day’s deal in­volved what ex­actly Trump had agreed to do for Huawei, which the United States has called a se­cu­rity threat. Trump said that he would al­low more sales of U.S. com­po­nents to the tele­com gi­ant, and that the Com­merce Depart­ment would soon re­view its le­gal mea­sures re­strict­ing these ex­ports. But Trump did not say what would hap­pen to pend­ing Jus­tice Depart­ment ac­tions against the com­pany and one of its ex­ec­u­tives.

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