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No plans yet for US, China presidents to meet on trade

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are no plans yet for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet soon in hope of finalizing a trade deal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday. Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer are leading a team to Beijing next week to continue the talks, but nothing is yet on the books for a Trump-Xi meeting.

"I can tell you there's nothing planned at this time for it, but the president has talked about potentially meeting with President Xi and we'll see what progress we make next week," Mnuchin said. The U.S. and China are in the midst of talks aimed at resolving a costly trade war, and Trump has said a comprehensive agreement is unlikely to be inked until he meets with his Chinese counterpart.

Trump and Xi last met in December in Argentina. The president hiked tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods over complaints that it steals or pressures U.S. companies to hand over technology in return for market access. The U.S. has said it will further boost tariffs on $200 billion of those goods unless an agreement is reached by a March 2 deadline.

Trump announced in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that he and North Korea's leader will meet on Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam, which borders China, to discuss nuclear issues. The trip will put Trump in the region just before the March cutoff date.

Mnuchin said officials were focused on next week's talks and meeting the deadline. Trump is involved in the negotiations "in a very detailed way," Mnuchin said, receiving weekly and sometimes daily updates from the economic team.

"If there are remaining issues that we can't get closed, I think President Trump expects that he's going to sit down with President Xi and address those issues," Mnuchin said.

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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