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Trump open to extending trade talks with China

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE said Tuesday that he’s open to extending the March 1 deadline for increasing tariffs on China if the two sides are close to a comprehensive trade deal.

“So far I've said, 'Don’t do that.' Now, if we’re close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it’s going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while,” Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting.

"But generally speaking I’m not inclined to do that,” he added. 

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Negotiators have until the beginning of next month to reach a comprehensive trade agreement, at which point the U.S. has said it will increase its tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent. The two sides have been locked in an escalating trade war for months, levying tit-for-tat duties on the other's products.

Top U.S. trade officials, including United States Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSchumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus Mnuchin joins Israeli delegation in Bahrain to formally normalize relations MOREare in Beijing this week to hold negotiations with their Chinese counterparts.

Trump has emphasized that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would need to meet before signing any agreement, though he said Tuesday that there are currently no plans for the two leaders to hold talks next month.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Trump said. “But at some point I expect to meet with President Xi, who I have a lot of respect for and like a lot, and make the parts of the deal that the group is unable to make.” 

The White House has laid out a litany of issues to be addressed in any final pact, including trade disparities, the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the need to police fentanyl shipments.