G-20 Summit Day Two

12 hours ago
Originally published on December 1, 2018 8:02 pm
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Trump today tweeted this remembrance about the late president. (Reading) President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him, I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all.

President Trump is in Buenos Aires this weekend for the G-20 summit. He has a working dinner tonight with Chinese President Xi that could determine whether trade tensions with China ramp up or ease up. NPR's White House correspondent Tamara Keith is traveling with the president and joins us. Tam, thanks so much for being with us.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Glad to be with you.

SIMON: What should we expect out of this dinner meeting?

KEITH: So what we know is that at a lower level, various White House officials and aides have been meeting with Chinese officials. They've been trying to work on something. We don't know how far along they are. But there are a lot of issues. President Trump is looking for Chinese concessions on intellectual property, forced technology transfers and also what he calls fair and reciprocal trade. Now, China has a different idea of what that means obviously.

And President Trump has threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese goods. They would go from 10 percent to 25 percent come January 1. So there is pressure to get this done. As for President Trump's feelings about how it might go tonight, this is what he said when we asked him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're working very hard. If we could make a deal, that would be good. I think they want to. And I think we'd like to. And we'll see.

KEITH: We'll see what happens is one of President Trump's favorite lines. And it doesn't really tip his hand as to whether he thinks it will happen or not.

SIMON: The president has also had struggles about trade with Mexico and Canada. But there was progress in Argentina?

KEITH: Yeah, so the leaders of Mexico and Canada and the United States got together right before the G-20 started and sat at a big table with three chairs and three pens and signed the agreement known as USMCA. It's the new NAFTA. It is sort of a renegotiated version of NAFTA with modernization and changes. And the next step for that - it's a big step, but it's not the only step. And it needs to be ratified by legislatures in all those countries in order to go into effect.

SIMON: Tam, in some ways, is this a G-20 that will be remembered for what didn't happen?

KEITH: Right. So President Trump didn't meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He canceled that meeting via tweet on the way over. He also didn't meet with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who is in the spotlight because of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was based in the United States. President Trump simply exchanged pleasantries with MBS.

And as for Putin, the president insisted that that meeting had been canceled because of Russian aggression against Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea and that it had nothing to do with Robert Mueller's investigation and the recent guilty plea by Michael Cohen.

SIMON: NPR's Tamara Keith, thanks so much for being with us.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.