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Top US officials arrive in China for trade talks as deadline looms

Top US officials arrive in China for trade talks as deadline looms

Asked if the ships' passage would impact trade talks, Hua said that "a series of USA tricks" showed what Washington was thinking.

The sail-by comes as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer head for Beijing, the latest high-profile effort to resolve the two countries' trade dispute before their tariff cease-fire expires March 1.

The declaration is a softening of Trump's rhetoric after he previously insisted there was no room to extend the deadline.

However, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Monday a meeting was still possible soon, telling Fox News Channel that Trump wants a deal with China, but it must be "fair to Americans, and American workers and American interests". "But generally speaking I'm not inclined" to delay raising tariffs, he added.

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A United States official said the warships had approached the islands on Monday to counter Chinese claims of domination over the entire South China Sea.

Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said he discussed the U.S.




Members of a USA trade delegation including deputy USA trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish left a Beijing hotel on Tuesday (Feb 12) on their way to the second day of talks with Chinese officials. The situation could get worse as a truce on tariffs is set to expire in early March.

Portman, who served as USTR during the George W. Bush administration, added that the Trump administration "is committed to structural reforms at this point" and Trump is less likely to settle for a deal mainly focused on increased purchases of US commodities.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet confirmed the FONOP Monday afternoon with global media, stating that the operation was conducted "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law".

The warships were shadowed by Chinese assets, but the interactions were routine and uneventful, according to a separate USA official.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite eked out nominal gains on Monday while the blue-chip Dow Industrials edged lower.

Mnuchin appeared at a Beijing hotel a couple of days ahead of scheduled high-level meetings with Chinese officials in the capital, with a March 1 deadline looming to strike an accord.

US officials are in Beijing for the latest round of trade talks. A round of talks at the end of January ended with some progress reported - but no deal and United States declarations that much more work was needed.