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China, U.S. trade officials talk ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

China’s Vice Premier Liu He exits the office of the U.S. Trade Representative following a morning round of negotiations on the second day of last ditch trade talks in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Senior Chinese and U.S. trade officials spoke by telephone on Monday ahead of talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump set for later this week, as the world’s two largest economies remain locked in a tariff war.

Trump and Xi are expected to meet on the second day of the Friday-Saturday Group of 20 summit in Japan, the first face-to-face meeting for the leaders since trade talks broke off in May.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a phone conversation with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement posted to its website on Tuesday morning.

During the call the Chinese and U.S. officials exchanged opinions on trade in accordance with the instructions of the two countries’ heads of state, and agreed to maintain communications, the statement said.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said on Tuesday that the call took place at the request of U.S. officials.

A senior U.S. official said Monday that Trump views the meeting with Xi as a chance to see where Beijing stands on the two countries’ trade war, and is “comfortable with any outcome.”

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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