Speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Vietnam was shut down by U.S. officials on Thursday, who say it's unlikely the two leaders will meet before the March 1st deadline set by the two sides to reach a trade deal.
However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow remained optimistic, telling reporters that the leaders of the two economic powerhouses could still meet later.
"Well the president has said a number of times that he expects to meet with President Xi on trade. When and where is totally up in the air at the moment. Does it depend on the meetings this week? I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to say one way or another, it might. You know, hopefully the meetings will go well."
President Trump on Tuesday during his State of the Union address, said any new trade deal with Beijing "must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practice", as the U.S. continues to press China to make major reforms.
Trump has vowed to increase U.S. tariffs on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports to 25-percent from the current 10-percent if the two sides cannot reach a deal by March 1st.
Watchers say the U.S. does not want to hold talks with China in Vietnam, to show that it's focus currently lies on the hotly anticipated second summit with North Korea.
They add that any misunderstandings that could arise from meeting with China in Vietnam could lead to a negative impact on denuclearization talks with North Korea.
From the upcoming second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the March 1st deadline, the next few weeks will be intense for Trump and his administration.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.