By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump views this week’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as a chance to see where Beijing stands on the two countries’ trade war, and is “comfortable with any outcome” from the talks, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.
The much-anticipated meeting at the G20 summit in Japan will be the first face-to-face meeting for the leaders since trade talks broke off in May, leading to a hike in U.S. tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.
The United States and China have waged an 11-month trade war marked by tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each others’ goods, roiling financial markets, disrupting supply chains and crimping global economic growth prospects.
The senior administration official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, declined to give details about plans for the meeting, other than to say it would likely happen on the second day of the Friday-Saturday summit in Osaka.
“It’s really just an opportunity for the president to maintain his engagement as he has very closely with his Chinese counterpart. Even as trade frictions persist, he’s got the opportunity to see where the Chinese side is since the talks last left off,” the official said.
“The president is quite comfortable with any outcome,” the official added.
The Trump administration has accused China of failing to protect intellectual property, forcing U.S. companies to transfer technology to Chinese partners and failing to provide a level playing field for U.S. companies.
Talks between the United States and China broke down in May after the U.S. side accused China of backing away from previously agreed commitments.
The senior administration official declined to say whether the meeting was seen as a chance to restart talks or achieve a more formal agreement.
“The U.S. position is well known at this point,” the official said, noting Chinese officials had also released statements on their position.
Trump, who is known for preferring one-on-one meetings to multilateral talks, will meet separately with at least eight world leaders while he is at the summit, the official said.
He plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, the official said, declining to give details of the dates and times because Trump’s schedule was still in flux.
Trump also will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is hosting the summit, the official told reporters on a conference call, noting additional bilateral meetings could still be announced.
Trump wants to talk to partners and allies to get their support for his Iran sanctions programme and to talk about how to encourage Iran to enter into diplomatic negotiations after Tehran shot down an unmanned American drone last week, a second official said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Eric Beech and Mohammad Zargham; Editing by G Crosse and Peter Cooney)