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US, China said to seek to restart talks to defuse trade war

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Representatives of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin(above) and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are having private conversations as they look for ways to reengage in negotiations.

[WASHINGTON] The US and China are trying to restart talks aimed at averting a full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies, two people familiar with the effort said.

Representatives of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are having private conversations as they look for ways to reengage in negotiations, according to the people who spoke about the deliberations on condition of anonymity. They cautioned that a specific timetable, the issues to be discussed and the format for talks aren't finalized, but added there was agreement among the principals that more talks need to take place.

Negotiations to resolve the dispute have been stalled for weeks, with both sides refusing to budge. High-level US talks on the trade posture with China are taking place this week, according to a third person who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Complicating Mr Mnuchin's efforts is a harder line taken by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has jurisdiction over the US's 301 investigation that sparked the tariffs. That case concluded China was stealing American technology and tariffs were needed to offset the damage.

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The next wave of US tariffs is set to kick in as early as Wednesday, with the possible imposition of duties on another US$16 billion of Chinese imports. Officials in Beijing have vowed to respond with the same amount of tariffs on US products.

A US Treasury official didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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