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Trump warns China against delaying trade deal as talks resume

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SHANGHAI—Chinese and U.S. negotiators resumed trade talks, taking tentative steps to overcome mutual mistrust and limited political appetite for a breakthrough agreement after weeks of recriminations.

The U.S. team, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, gathered for dinner Tuesday with the Chinese side, led by Chinese vice Premier Liu He, at the Fairmont Peace Hotel, a Shanghai landmark on the city’s riverfront, according to a person familiar with the situation. The negotiators then met for a more formal round of talks at a government guesthouse on Wednesday.

Both sides are looking to the other to demonstrate goodwill, said people briefed on the discussions, with the U.S. expecting a pickup in Chinese orders for American farm goods and Beijing waiting for Washington to relax restrictions on Chinese telecommunications gear maker Huawei Technologies Co.’s access to U.S. technology.

“In trade negotiations, nothing is decided until everything is decided, although it’s possible there will be some baby steps, some partial landing zones, to build confidence,” said James Green, a former U.S. diplomat and trade official who is now an adviser at McLarty Associates, a consulting firm.

Apart from small steps, however, expectations are low for significant progress in resolving a trade dispute that has rattled global markets and seen both sides slap punitive tariffs on about half the more than $600 billion in goods they trade.

President Trump, in a series of tweets Tuesday morning, ratcheted up pressure on Beijing to quickly reach a deal and warned that if he were re-elected, the terms of an agreement “will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now…or no deal at all.”

Later, in comments to reporters at the White House, he said, “We’re either going to make a great deal or we’re not going to make a deal at all.”

He also said he believed China would prefer to negotiate with a Democratic president. “They’ll pray that Trump loses,” Mr. Trump said.

A senior Republican senator opposed to tariffs brushed aside Mr. Trump’s comments.

“I don’t think you ought to make anything out of it except to forget the tweet,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “Just forget his tweet and say, ‘What a blessing it is that, in Shanghai, Lighthizer and Mnuchin are sitting down with their negotiators now, and when they’re talking there’s a chance of getting something done.’ ”

After negotiations appeared to be close but then foundered in May, both sides blamed the other for the breakdown. Since then, each has side taken steps, from the Huawei limits to new Chinese rules on cyber security, that are likely to impede a broader agreement.

 

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Trump knew exactly what was going on: Giuliani aide

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Washington: An aide to Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has said that the US President “knew exactly what was going on” regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, it was reported on Thursday.

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnass, who is facing separate criminal charges, made the comments in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday after letters, phone records, notes and flash drives were obtained from him earlier this week, the BBC said in a report.

Documents show that the Ukraine-born Parnas was in regular contact with Giuliani as well as Ukrainian officials, and suggests that the businessman was directly involved in trying to have Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky look into the Bidens.

In the interview, Parnas said Trump was “aware of all my movements”.

“I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President. Why would President Zelensky’s inner circle or (Interior) Minister (Arsen) Avakov or all these people or (former) President (Petro) Poroshenko meet with me?

“Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret that they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work,” he added.

Parnas further said that the President was lying and knew that unless there was an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was a director of a Ukrainian gas company, military aid to Kiev would be withheld.

He also claimed that the investigation was about digging up dirt on Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, some of the materials obtained show Parnas and Giuliani discussing the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the then US ambassador to Ukraine, said the BBC report.

In Wednesday’s interview, Parnas claimed the only motivation to get Yovanovitch removed from her post was because she was in the way of the effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe Biden.

Trump was impeached by the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on December 18, 2019 and is accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The two articles of impeachment were sent to the Republican-majority Senate on Wednesday night, paving the way for the starting of a trial against the President.

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