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Trump says he may not stick to March deadline on China tariffs

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Trump says he is open to extending China trade deadline

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would consider postponing the March 2 deadline for tariffs if the U.S. and China can reach a trade deal soon.

Trump softened his stance on the trade battle with China, saying he's open to letting the deadline slide, but "would prefer not to." He also said Beijing "very much wants to make a deal," and he has "a big team" in China trying to reach a resolution.

When asked if he will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of March, Trump said, "Not at this point."

The March 2 deadline is crucial in the negotiations as U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will increase if a deal is not struck before then. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer headed to Beijing this week for another round of talks with Vice Premier Liu He. The trade talks still seemed far apart as the two sides have not even drafted an accord specifying the matters they agree and disagree on.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Thursday that there is a "pretty sizable distance to go " before China and the U.S. reach a deal. Kudlow also indicated, however, that Trump is "optimistic with respect to a potential trade deal."

Mnuchin said last week the talks have been "very productive," although he noted that a "wide range of issues" remains to be worked out.

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