Former President Jimmy Carter reportedly said Sunday that President Trump had given him a call the previous night to discuss relations with China.
Speaking during a church service in Georgia on Sunday, Carter – the longest living president in United States history – did not go into detail about his Saturday night conversation with Trump, but said that the current president was “rightly” concerned that “China is getting ahead of us,” as NPR reported.
The White House Monday confirmed that Trump and Carter spoke.
“President Jimmy Carter wrote President Trump a beautiful letter about the current negotiations with China and on Saturday they had a very good telephone conversation about President Trump’s stance on trade with China and numerous other topics,” the White House said in a statement. “The President has always liked President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and extended his best wishes to them on behalf of the American people.”
Carter, who in 1979 signed the accords that helped normalize relations with China, has been a strong voice in urging Washington and Beijing to find common ground and improve relations. Carter also has warned that the current trade conflict with China has distracted the two world powers.
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China and the U.S. said recently they achieved new progress in talks aimed at ending a tariff standoff over Beijing’s industrial and technology policies. A conclusion to the dispute, which has shaken financial markets, remained uncertain.
The two issues at the center of China-U.S. trade frictions have been forced technology transfer and intellectual property.
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The trade dispute between the two countries escalated last year after the U.S. made several complaints, including that China was stealing U.S. trade secrets and was forcing companies to give them technology to access its market. Trump imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports. China retaliated with tariffs on about $110 billion of U.S. items.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.