Trump, Xi discuss North Korea, trade by phone

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President Donald J. Trump and his Chinse counterpart, Xi Jinping, talked about developments on the Korean peninsula as well as bilateral trade during a phone call on Tuesday.

The call comes as both countries attempt to keep good trade relations intact while tensions have eased somewhat over North Korea.

Xi told Trump that last year saw significant progress between both countries as well as a stabilization of relations.

He added that both sides would need to continue interactions in the coming months and years while holding another round of in-person meetings for “dialogue” at an appropriate time. The Chinese leader also called for stronger cooperation between the two militaries, and in law-enforcement, drug control, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation at local levels, as well as close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues.

Trump, meanwhile, said that the U.S.-Chinese relationship was an important one to him and to all Americans and that he’s willing to work with Xi to continually improve relations.

As for the North Korean nuclear issue, Xi said China was “ready to join the U.S. for proper settlement” of it. [source]

(Analyst comment: Pleasantries aside, there are significant differences remaining between Washington and Beijing, not the least of which, for Washington, is China’s outsized claims to the South China Sea, and for Beijing, Washington’s continued quest to remain the dominant power in what Xi sees as China’s backyard. More pressing, however, is a pending ‘trade war’ between the two countries. It’s not a certainty yet, but last week the Trump administration released trade figures between the U.S. and China and they weren’t pretty: China logged a record annual surplus with the U.S. Trump’s “America first” policies are essentially the same as Xi’s “China Dream” policies. If such a war starts and spreads, it could disrupt the entire global trade architecture — advantage Trump.)

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