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Trump says he may not stick to March deadline on China tariffs

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President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017.

Damir Sagolj | Reuters

President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would consider postponing the March 2 deadline for tariffs if the U.S. and China can reach a trade deal soon.

Trump softened his stance on the trade battle with China, saying he’s open to letting the deadline slide, but “would prefer not to.” He also said Beijing “very much wants to make a deal,” and he has “a big team” in China trying to reach a resolution.

When asked if he will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of March, Trump said, “Not at this point.”

The March 2 deadline is crucial in the negotiations as U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will increase if a deal is not struck before then. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin along with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer headed to Beijing this week for another round of talks with Vice Premier Liu He. The trade talks still seemed far apart as the two sides have not even drafted an accord specifying the matters they agree and disagree on.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Thursday that there is a “pretty sizable distance to go” before China and the U.S. reach a deal. Kudlow also indicated, however, that Trump is “optimistic with respect to a potential trade deal.”

Mnuchin said last week the talks have been “very productive,” although he noted that a “wide range of issues” remains to be worked out.

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North Korea test-fires a new tactical guided weapon

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North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un looks on during the test-fire of inter-continental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July, 4 2017.

KCNA | Reuters

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un looks on during the test-fire of inter-continental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July, 4 2017.

WASHINGTON — North Korea tested a new type of tactical guided weapon on Wednesday, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Thursday morning local time.

Thursday’s test of “a powerful warhead” was overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and marks the first public weapons test from the rogue regime since Trump’s historic meeting with Kim in Singapore last year.

The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The latest revelation comes less than two months after the collapse of nuclear talks between President Donald Trump and Kim in Vietnam.

North Korea, the only nation to have tested nuclear weapons this century, spent most of Trump’s first year in office perfecting its nuclear arsenal. The newest member of the world’s exclusive nuclear weapons club has stopped testing of its nukes for now as the U.S. and international community offer the possibility of relief from crippling economic sanctions.

While North Korea has paused nuclear tests that prompted Trump’s threat to bring “fire and fury” upon the reclusive nation, it had already made significant progress before the historic dialogue with the U.S. started.

Under the third-generation North Korean leader, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into the waters near Guam.

Since 2011, Kim has fired more than 85 missiles and four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.

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China eyeing Trump’s late May Japan trip for potential Xi summit

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As the U.S. and China work through the final stages of trade negotiations, Chinese officials are identifying international travel dates on President Donald Trump’s calendar that might offer potential for a summit off of U.S. soil, according to three sources briefed on negotiations.

One trip in particular that’s risen to the top of the list: Trump’s expected visit to Japan at the end of May, putting him in the Asia-Pacific region around the time negotiations are expected to conclude.

Neither the White House nor the Embassy of Japan would confirm the trip, in which Trump would be the first foreign leader received by Crown Prince Naruhito after he accedes to the throne on May 1.

But the three sources briefed on the negotiations, requesting anonymity to protect their relationships with the Trump administration, said it’s one option being considered. An administration official acknowledged holding the summit in Asia is China’s preference, though it remains unclear where the final location will be. Trump has said the summit could happen on either continent and that he expects a resolution by the end of May.

“I would say we’ll know over the next four weeks,” Trump told reporters gathered in the Oval Office on April 5 for an event with the Chinese vice premier. “It may take two weeks after that to get it papered, but over the next fairly short period of time, we’re going to know.”

While that timeline would put the target end date right around Trump’s trip to Japan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks would not be bound by an “arbitrary timeline,” and the South China Morning Post threw cold water on a deal being done by then.

Erin Ennis, senior vice president at the US-China Business Council, suggested a later June meeting – perhaps on the sidelines of the G20 at the end of the month – would be more feasible.

“It seems like both sides want to have the deal completed first before they’re willing to discuss when and where a summit would happen,” Ennis told CNBC.

In late January, China initially invited Pres. Trump to meet Pres. Xi on the island of Hainan in the South China Sea. The White House countered with Mar-a-Lago, one venue that still remains under consideration. But China has also suggested that if its president were to travel to the U.S. solely to announce a trade agreement, it would need to be in the form of an official state visit. The two sides have been discussing a potential state visit by Xi since 2018.

The May 26-28 trip was previously reported by the Japan Times.

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Peru’s ex-president Garcia dies after shooting himself to avoid arrest

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The former president of Peru, Alan Garcia, speaks during the First International Meeting of the Pacific Basin, in Cali, Colombia, on October 5, 2011.

Luis Robayo | AFP | Getty Images

The former president of Peru, Alan Garcia, speaks during the First International Meeting of the Pacific Basin, in Cali, Colombia, on October 5, 2011.

Peru’s former president Alan Garcia died in a hospital in Lima on Wednesday, hours after shooting himself in the head to avoid arrest in connection with a bribery probe, authorities said on Wednesday.

Garcia was 69.

A skilled orator elected president twice, first as a firebrand leftist and then as a champion of foreign investment and free trade, Garcia had been dogged by allegations of corruption in recent years that he repeatedly denied.

Garcia had been one of nine people a judge had ordered to be arrested on Wednesday for alleged involvement in bribes distributed by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that triggered Latin America’s biggest graft scandal when it admitted in 2016 that it had paid kickbacks to politicians across the region to secure lucrative contracts.

Members of his party announced his death to crowds gathered outside of hospital Casimiro Ulloa, where he suffered three cardiac arrests and underwent emergency surgery.

President Martin Vizcarra said on Twitter that he was “consternated” by Garcia’s death, and sent his condolences to his family members.

Garcia governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

He had denied wrongdoing involving Odebrecht, and blamed his legal troubles on political persecution.

“Others might sell out, not me,” Garcia said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.

Interior Minister Carlos Moran said at a news conference before Garcia died that the former president had told police he needed to call his attorney after they arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him.

“He entered his room and closed the door behind him,” Moran said. “Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard, and police forcibly entered the room and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head.”

Last year, Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation. Uruguay rejected the request.

Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case. Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017-2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges last week.

A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.

All have denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.

In Peru, criminal suspects can be ordered to spend up to three years in jail before trial if prosecutors can show they have evidence that likely would lead to a conviction and the suspect would likely flee or try to interfere in the investigation.

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