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U.S., Chinese officials to meet Friday, discuss Liu visit - U.S. official

FILE PHOTO - Chinese and U.S. flags are set up for a signing ceremony during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at China's Ministry of Transport in Beijing, China April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and Chinese officials are set to meet in Washington on Friday to discuss trade disputes between the world’s two largest economies ahead of a pending visit by China’s top economic official, a U.S. Treasury official said.

The official described the meeting as a follow-up to last week’s high-level trade talks in Beijing and in preparation for Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s visit to Washington. However, the official declined to provide details of the Friday meetings, or specify the precise timing of Liu’s visit.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday Liu, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top-ranking economic adviser, would come to Washington next week “to continue discussions with the president’s economic team.”

Trade talks in Beijing last week, led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Liu, failed to produce any breakthroughs to stave off U.S. tariff threats on up to $150 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China’s threats to retaliate in kind.

U.S. officials presented a lengthy list of trade demands, including reducing China’s trade surplus by $200 billion a year.

A source familiar with planning for the visit said a lower level delegation would likely head to Washington first and that might delay the Liu visit slightly.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC the timing of the Liu’s arrival was unclear and “there’s a chance it’s not next week.”

Ross also told a CNBC-sponsored event he thought the Chinese officials at the Beijing meetings “agreed to the concept of a trade deficit reduction - the questions are how much and how do you get there?”

Reporting by David Lawder in WASHINGTON and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait