By Vivian Salama and William Mauldin
WASHINGTON -- President Trump rejected suggestions that the U.S. would accept a partial trade agreement with China, saying his administration is "'looking for a complete deal."
Speaking to reporters on Friday at a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Mr. Trump said China's plan to boost purchases of U.S. agriculture exports alone isn't enough to compel his administration to sign a deal. Intellectual-property theft, he added, remains an issue that must be resolved.
Mr. Trump dismissed the trade war with China, widely cited as an important factor in the global economic slowdown, as "a little spat" and reiterated his respect for China's President Xi Jinping.
The president's comments came as U.S. and Chinese officials were holding mid-level meetings in Washington, according to a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The deputy-level officials were working Thursday and Friday to set the agenda for talks with Mr. Lighthizer and other senior officials, tentatively planned for October, according to people following the talks.
Business leaders are hoping to see progress in the talks in coming weeks that could lead Mr. Trump to further delay or scrap plans for both a five-percentage-point hike in some U.S. tariff levels in October and the launch in December of major new tariffs on consumer goods imported from China.
On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said China's delegates were planning to visit U.S. farms after talks in Washington concluded, adding it wasn't clear whether their plans suggested they were going to announce U.S. agricultural purchases.
On Friday, CNBC reported that the Chinese trade negotiators would head back to China after the talks and were no longer planning to visit farms in Montana and elsewhere.
"They are not coming to Montana," said a woman who answered the phone at the Montana Farm Bureau. "They have changed their travel plans and are heading home."
--Josh Zumbrun contributed to this article.
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