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US official Lighthizer arrives in Beijing ahead of trade talks

US official Lighthizer arrives in Beijing ahead of trade talks

Asked if the ships' passage would impact trade talks, Hua said that "a series of United States tricks" showed what Washington was thinking.

The declaration is a softening of Trump's rhetoric after he previously insisted there was no room to extend the deadline. "But generally speaking, I'm not inclined to do that".

The US Navy sent two guided-missile destroyers to challenge China in the South China Sea, and Beijing is outraged.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday said the People's Liberation Army Navy sent vessels to track the U.S. warships sailing near the Spratlys and warned them to leave the area.

Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said he discussed the U.S.

China accused the US of "tricks" as two American warships sailed through waters claimed by Beijing on the eve of high-level trade talks. The so-called truce is reportedly set to end on March 1.

Portman, who served as USTR during the George W. Bush administration, added that the Trump administration "is committed to structural reforms at this point" and Trump is less likely to settle for a deal mainly focused on increased purchases of US commodities.

Speaking about the most recent operation, Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, told CNN that the action was meant to "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by global law". And while no date has yet been agreed for a meeting with China's President Xi Jinping, he said he expects that to happen "at some point".

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"What I am sensing is there is a strong desire on both sides to reach an agreement", she added.

Beijing and Washington are both trying to hammer out a deal ahead of March 1.

USA stocks rallied on Trump's trade comments, along with a tentative congressional spending deal aimed at avoiding another government shutdown.

Current data shows that U.S. futures are looking at a gain of about 0.8 percent at market open for both the Standard & Poors 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Trump administration said the US president still wants to meet China's Xi Jinping in an effort to end the trade war, a sign of optimism as negotiators from the world's two biggest economies start their latest round of talks this week. "We're looking forward to several important days of talks", Mnuchin said to reporters.

Lighthizer and Mnuchin were seen arriving at a Beijing hotel on Tuesday.

Talks kicked off in Beijing with discussions among deputy-level officials on Monday before minister-level meetings later in the week.

While China has offered to buy more USA soybeans and beef, officials have yet even to agree on a draft of a deal that would address key United States concerns, according to media reports.