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Trump, Xi seal trade war truce

Deal done:President Donald Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday.APAP  

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping struck a trade war truce on Saturday, as Washington vowed to hold off on further tariffs, allow American companies to sell equipment to Chinese tech giant Huawei and declared trade negotiations with China “back on track.”

The ceasefire that halts damaging trade frictions came in a hotly anticipated meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Mr. Trump hailed the meeting as “excellent.” “We are right back on track,” he added. There was little in the way of concrete details on what was agreed, but Mr. Trump confirmed Washington had committed not to impose any new tariffs on Beijing’s exports and the two sides would continue talks.

Talks to continue

“We won’t be adding an additional tremendous amount of $350 billion dollars left which could be taxed or could be tariffed. We’re not doing that, we are going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference. “We will be continuing to negotiate.”

Mr. Trump also said that U.S. companies could sell equipment to Huawei, indicating a potentially softer position on a key sticking point in the U.S.-China trade war. “We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump’s comment marked a material change in the stance toward Huawei, which has essentially been barred on national security grounds from accessing crucial American technology or operating in the U.S. market.

A solution to the Huawei issue may have to wait until the closing stages of talks, Mr. Trump said. He struck a conciliatory tone after his arrival for the summit, despite saying China’s economy was going “down the tubes” before he set out for Osaka.

He said he was ready for a “historic” deal with China as the leaders kicked off their meeting, and Mr. Xi told him that dialogue was better than confrontation.

In their final statement, the G20 leaders admitted that “most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” echoing hard-won language from their Finance Ministers at a meeting earlier this month.

The tete-a-tete between the U.S. and Chinese leaders — the first since the last G20 in December — cast a long shadow over this year’s gathering in Osaka.

Trade has proved far from the only contentious issue on the summit table, with climate change another major sticking point.

A diplomatic source said it had been a “difficult” night of negotiations, with an American delegate pushing a “very tough position” and the others standing united against watering down the climate language in the final statement.

In the end, a deal of sorts was reached, with 19 members — minus the U.S. — agreeing on Saturday to the “irreversibility” of the Paris climate deal and pledging its full implementation.