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Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Thursday morning that U.S. negotiators have "executed a definitive agreement with ZTE."

Why it matters: Compromise with ZTE — a repeat violator of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea and a company identified as a national security threat by the Pentagon — could set a dangerous precedent for trade negotiations with China.

"At about 6 a.m. this morning, we executed a definitive agreement with ZTE. And that brings to a conclusion this phase of the development with them."
— Wilbur Ross

Worth noting: President Trump announced in a tweet on May 25 that a deal had been reached.

The details:

  • The Commerce Department announced that the terms of the agreement include a $1 billion fine against ZTE plus $400 million in escrow to cover any future violations in exchange for the U.S. lifting its ban.
  • "These penalties are in addition to the $892 million in penalties ZTE has already paid to the U.S government under the March 2017 settlement agreement," the Department said.
  • ZTE will also have to "retain a team of special compliance coordinators selected by and answerable to" the Department for 10 years.

The backdrop: China lobbied for a compromise on ZTE after the Commerce Department issued a 7-year ban on American companies selling parts to the Chinese company, which led to its effective shutdown. The ban was put in place to punish ZTE for selling products with American parts to North Korea and Iran.

Go deeper: How ZTE could change the game for the other, bigger Chinese phone maker under U.S. scrutiny

Go deeper

FBI, Homeland Security warn of increasing threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

26 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

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