VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman in Osaka, Japan, and Dorian Jones in Istanbul contributed to this report.
U.S. President Donald Trump praised Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the two met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan, calling him a “friend of mine” who has done a “spectacular job.”
Trump said Saturday he appreciated Saudi Arabia’s purchase of U.S. military equipment and said the prince has worked to open up his country with economic and social reforms.
The U.S. president declined to respond to questions from the media on whether he would raise the issue of the death last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi prince has faced international scrutiny since Khashoggi was killed in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last year.
Following their working breakfast on Saturday, the White House said the two leaders had a productive meeting, discussing the growing threat from Iran, the need to ensure stability in global oil markets and the importance of human rights issues.
Trump is set to meet later Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to restart trade negotiations between the countries that broke off last month.
Trump, asked by VOA News during his meeting Friday at the summit with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro whether he expects Xi to put a trade deal offer on the table Saturday, replied: “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’ll be a very exciting day, I’m sure, for a lot of people, including the world. … It’s going to come out hopefully well for both countries and ultimately it will work out.”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said this week that Trump did not agree to any preconditions for the high-stakes meeting with Xi and was maintaining his threat to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods.
Trump has threatened another $325 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, which would cover just about everything China exports to the U.S. that is not already covered by the current 25% tariff on $250 billion in Chinese imports.
China has slapped its own tariffs on U.S. products, including those produced by already financially strapped American farmers.
The chief of staff to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short, said Friday that the “best-case scenario” for Saturday’s talks would be a resumption of trade negotiations between the United States and China.
Eleven rounds of previous talks have failed to ease U.S. concerns about China’s massive trade surplus and China’s acquisition of U.S. technology.
The latest round of talks broke down in May, when Washington accused Beijing of going back on its pledge to change Chinese laws to enact economic reforms.
Neither the United Sates nor China has indicated it will back down from previous positions that led to the current stalemate.
Trump is also scheduled to meet Saturday with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting is seen as the last chance to avoid a rupture in ties between the NATO allies over Turkey’s procurement of Russia’s S-400 missile system.
Before leaving for Japan, Erdogan played down the threat of sanctions. “I don’t know if NATO countries began to impose sanctions on each other. I did not receive this impression during my contact with Trump,” he said Wednesday to reporters.
The Turkish president told the Nikkei Asian Review, in an interview published Wednesday, that he was expecting a breakthrough with Trump.
“I believe my meeting with U.S. President Trump during the G-20 summit will be important for eliminating the deadlock in our bilateral relations and strengthening our cooperation,” he said.