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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The U.S.-China trade talks this week were constructive, though as expected there were no big breakthroughs, sources tell me.

What's next: Soon after the Lunar Year holiday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead a delegation to China to continue the discussions. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to meet later this month when Trump is expected to travel to Asia for the second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

In a meeting in the Oval office, Vice Premier Liu He delivered an artful letter from Xi that Trump called "beautiful." Among the highlights of Xi's letter, per the White House transcript:

"As I often say, I feel we have known each other for a long time, ever since we first met.  I cherish the good working relations and personal friendship with you.  I enjoy our meetings and phone calls in which we could talk about anything.  It falls to us to work together and accomplish things meaningful for the people of our two countries and the world at large."

My thought bubble: Of course the Chinese want another Trump-Xi meeting. They know they can not trust any agreement that is not made directly with the U.S. president, and they believe that if they can get a face-to-face meeting with Trump, they will probably end up with a more favorable deal for China.

  • As I wrote in last week's newsletter, this will continue to be a grind, but I still believe Xi is very motivated to make a deal as the trade war is one more risk he does not want right now.
  • More importantly, I hear he is very concerned about the push from some U.S. officials towards "decoupling" and so views a deal as a way to blunt those forces even as the U.S.-China competition heats up across multiple dimensions.

The big question: When they meet, will Xi make a last-minute request to release Meng Wanzhou and settle the Huawei indictments with a fine? It worked for Xi in the ZTE debacle.

Go deeper:

  • Read the White House's statement regarding the China talks.
  • Check out the official Xinhua readout on those same talks.

Go deeper

Former Sen. David Perdue to launch bid for Georgia governor

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Former Senator David Perdue (R) plans to announce a campaign against Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp Monday, according to a source familiar with Perdue's thinking.

Why it matters: Perdue's challenge to his former ally Kemp sets up an unprecedented "scorched earth" battle between Georgia Republicans fueled by former President Donald Trump, in the battleground state. The news was first reported by Politico.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

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