Fri, Apr. 4, 2017: Trump touts progress after meeting with Xi, but no breakthrough

President Trump said goodbye to his Chinese counterpart after two days of meetings Friday, declaring that they “made tremendous progress” but without any breakthroughs to announce.

Instead, the two sides agreed on a 100-day plan to address their differences on economic issues, which the Trump administration touted as an accomplishment in itself. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called it “a very big sea change in the pace of discussions.”

Ross said the Chinese delegation expressed an interest in reducing the trade deficit, which has provided the communist nation with trillions of dollars of hard currency but which has also restricted domestic consumption and fueled inflation. Trump has made reducing that deficit a priority for his own reasons, having campaigned on an platform of economic nationalism that blamed China for stealing American jobs.

Trump had also come into the talks hoping to use the trade issue as leverage to get China to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. That didn’t happen. “There was no kind of a package arrangement discussed to resolve this,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But he said Xi acknowledged that the North Korean situation had reached “a very serious stage.”

Trump himself often measures the success of his diplomatic efforts by the personal relationship he’s able to forge, and his first face-to-face meeting with Xi was no different.

“I just want to say that President Xi and all of his representatives have been really interesting to be with,” Trump said. “I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.” The two leaders had a working lunch and went for a short walk on a breezy, sunny, 72-degree spring day on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Xi described the meeting as “unique,” and praised Trump for his “excellent preparations.”

The summit was already the most important in Trump’s 11-week presidency, and the first conducted not with an ally but a rival. But the meetings were overshadowed by Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike against Syria even while he dined with Xi at a formal dinner Thursday night. Trump informed Xi of the strike as the Chinese delegation left the dinner, Tillerson said.

Xi also invited Trump to visit China later this year, and Trump accepted the invitation, he said.

–USA Today, Gregory Korte 

Melania Trump, Chinese First Lady visit Florida school

The visit was supposed to be a closely held secret. Officially, all that students and teachers at Bak Middle School of the Arts knew was that VIPs would be on campus Friday morning.

But with dueling contingents of American and Chinese security officials scouring the school on Wednesday and Thursday, it was little surprise when the motorcade pulled up at 11 a.m. and out stepped first lady Melania Trump and Madame Peng Liyuan, the wife of China’s President Xi Jinping.

They spent slightly less than an hour on campus at the public arts school in northern West Palm Beach. But it was enough time to take in multiple music performances, visit four classrooms and chat with awed students, including one boy who had a special moment with Peng.

Click here to read more from the Palm Beach Post.

Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice

The Republican-led Senate on Friday gave Donald Trump the biggest triumph of his young presidency, confirming his Supreme Court nominee over stout Democratic opposition and restoring a conservative majority on the highest U.S. judicial body.

The Senate, which last year refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the court, voted to approve Republican Trump’s pick, Colorado-based federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, to the lifetime job. Continue reading “Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice”

Fri, Apr. 7, 2017: Trump, Xi discuss trade in Mar-a-Lago meeting

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged cooperation with the United States on trade and investment on Thursday, inviting President Donald Trump to visit China in a cordial start to their first meeting likely to broach sensitive security and commercial issues.

Trump has said he wants to raise concerns about China’s trade practices and press Xi to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions during his two-day visit to the Spanish-style Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, though no major deals on either issue are expected.

The two sides should promote the “healthy development of bilateral trade and investment” and advance talks on a bilateral investment agreement, Xi said, according to a statement on China’s Foreign Ministry website. Continue reading “Fri, Apr. 7, 2017: Trump, Xi discuss trade in Mar-a-Lago meeting”