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US open to talks with China, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at the White House

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says President Donald Trump will remain steadfast on protecting U.S. economic interests. | AP file photo

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the Trump administration is talking with Chinese officials and is willing to negotiate to resolve the trade dispute. But he says President Donald Trump will remain steadfast on protecting U.S. economic interests.

Mnuchin tells CNBC, “We’re absolutely willing to negotiate.” Mnuchin says in the interview that U.S. officials are in communication with the Chinese. But he adds, “On the other hand, the president is absolutely prepared to defend our interests.” He says those interests include protecting U.S. farmers.

The treasury secretary acknowledges that the escalation of tensions between the two countries has brought “the potential of a trade war.” But he says the current standoff is not the beginning of a trade war, and that he’s “cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to work this out.”