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Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He expected to invite Donald Trump to meet Xi Jinping for further trade war talks

China's Vice-Premier Liu He is expected to extend an invitation to US President Donald Trump to meet his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for further trade talks when the two meet in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon, according to a US business lobbyist who is in close communication with American trade negotiators.

At the scheduled face-to-face meeting at the White House, Liu is expected to "formally, on behalf of President Xi, make that offer for the two presidents to meet", said Myron Brilliant, executive vice-president and head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce.

"There's question marks about the location and question marks about the timing," said Brilliant, adding that the visit could even occur after the March 1 deadline, after which the US is expected to increase tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 to 25 per cent if a deal is not reached.

'Without this a deal would be unacceptable!': Trump makes trade talk demand

Trump told reporters on Thursday that he expected the two sides to eventually make a deal, but hinted at an extension of negotiations. "This is going to be a very big deal", he said, "or it's going to be a deal that we'll just postpone for a little."

Liu's invitation to Trump could be the most substantial outcome of the latest round of talks in Washington, which Brilliant said had failed to make progress on several fundamental areas, including forced technology transfers and industrial subsidies.

China had brought new thoughts to the table on IP protection and enforcement of such progress, said Brilliant, who was briefed on progress at the halfway point of talks.

US-China trade war talks begin with protesters rushing Beijing delegation

"No deal that doesn't have trust and verification components is going to be a good deal that will get the blessing of the president of the United States or the business community," he said.

Citing Trump's flurry of statements over the course of Thursday that negotiations were going well and that he was open to visiting Xi for another round of talks, Brilliant said it was "very clear that President Trump is very engaged in these talks".

"The last time a president was this engaged in the trade talks was President Bill Clinton in the run-up to getting China into the WTO," he said. "So that's very significant that he is personally engaged here."

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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