China says Xi-Trump phone call ‘extremely positive’

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Officials are working to resolve differences ahead of upcoming talks between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The two leaders agreed to "strengthen economic exchanges", said a ministry spokesman, Lu Kang. Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina.

"I agree, this phone conversation was an extremely positive phone conversation", Lu said at a regular briefing.

Trump said he and Xi also had "a good discussion on North Korea".

China and the United States can overcome their differences and get relations back on track if they work together in a spirit of mutual respect, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a group of visiting US politicians on Thursday.

Trump said he and Xi plan to meet during a gathering of the Group of 20 major economies this month in Argentina.

A Justice Department indictment targeted two companies based in China and Taiwan and three individuals, saying they conspired to steal trade secrets from USA semiconductor company Micron Technology Inc.

Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the US-China Business Council in Beijing, said there were plenty of challenges that would require significant negotiations in advance of a meeting between Trump and Xi to ensure success.

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The two leaders agreed the trade dispute "should be handled properly through substantial consultation", Lu said.

China and the United States are locked in an increasingly bitter trade war, with both countries have already placed tariffs on some of each others imports. Earlier this year, the Trump administration imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate.

Trump made no mention of whether the two leaders talked about the US indictment unveiled Thursday of two companies based in China and Taiwan accusing them of stealing trade secrets from a USA semiconductor company, Micron Technology Inc.

The U.S. president said Wednesday that he'd like to sit down and make a "fair deal" with China on trade that would eliminate the need for the massive tariffs he's put on the nation.

In recent months China has repeatedly questioned the US's sincerity in trade talks, wary of agreeing to something only to have Trump change his mind.

But other signs of trade progress surfaced Friday.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander told Li that the delegation was there "to show our respect to a great country and a great people".

Alexander said he would be discussing trade with Li, though neither of them mentioned the ongoing tariff war in remarks in front of reporters.