U.S. expects China's top trade negotiator to visit 'most likely' this month

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. officials expect China’s top trade negotiator may visit Washington this month, signaling that higher-level discussions are likely to follow this week’s talks with mid-level officials in Beijing as the world’s two largest economies try to hammer out a deal to end a tit-for-tat tariff war. “The current intent is that the Vice Premier Liu He will most likely come and visit us later in the month and I would expect the government shutdown would have no impact,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday…

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U.S., China eye higher-level talks after discussing tech transfer

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. and Chinese officials are working on arrangements for higher-level trade talks after mid-level officials this week discussed U.S. demands on issues that would require structural change in China to address such as intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and other non-tariff barriers. People familiar with the three days of talks in Beijing said hopes are mounting that the top Chinese negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, will visit Washington this month to meet with his negotiating counterparts, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.…

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VW seeks damages from ex-managers for emissions scandal: report

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is seeking damages from former managers, who were dismissed for their roles in the diesel emissions scandal that has cost the German automaker as much as $30 billion, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Thursday. Volkswagen filed the claims for damages as part of labor court disputes at the end of last year, the newspaper said, without giving details of which former employees it had targeted or how high the total damages claims might be. Volkswagen declined to comment on the report. Handelsblatt said Volkswagen has…

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Archaeologists restore ancient Palmyra artifacts in Damascus museum

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – In the National Museum of Damascus, archaeologist Muntajab Youssef works on an ancient stone bust from Palmyra, one of hundreds of artifacts his team is painstakingly restoring after they were damaged by Islamic State. Centuries-old statues and sculptures were wrecked by the jihadists when they twice seized control of the old city in central Syria during the country’s war, which will go into its ninth year in March. The 1,800-year-old bust of a bejeweled and richly clothed woman, The Beauty of Palmyra, was damaged during the first…

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Four men go on trial for theft of giant gold coin from Berlin museum

BERLIN (Reuters) – Four men went on trial on Thursday for stealing a gold coin the size of a manhole cover from one of Germany’s flagship museums in a daring night-time heist using a ladder and a wheelbarrow. German authorities believe the 100 kg (220 pound) Canadian “Big Maple Leaf” – once recognized as the biggest gold coin in the world – has been melted down since its theft from Berlin’s Bode Museum in March 2017. Prosecutors say three of the suspects broke into the museum through an upstairs window…

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China says trade talks with U.S. set foundation to resolve concerns

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday trade talks with the United States this week were extensive and detailed, and established a foundation for the resolution of each others’ concerns. The two sides “held extensive, deep and thorough exchanges on trade and structural issues of common concern, which promoted mutual understanding and established a foundation for the resolution of each others’ concerns”, it said. Both parties agreed to continue to maintain close contact, the ministry said in a brief statement on its website. The three-day talks in Beijing…

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Carmaker Rolls-Royce urges UK's May to avoid a hard Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) – Carmaker Rolls-Royce called on the British government to avoid a disorderly Brexit and said it was building up some stock, expanding warehouse capacity and training suppliers for customs changes in case Britain leaves the EU without a deal. Britain, the world’s fifth largest economy, is due to leave the globe’s biggest trading bloc in under 80 days but a Brexit agreement looks set to be voted down by lawmakers next week, making a no-deal and potential trade barriers more likely. The BMW-owned (BMWG.DE) brand, which reported record…

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Skydance hires ousted Disney animation head John Lasseter

(Reuters) – U.S. film production company Skydance Media on Wednesday named Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) former animation head and co-founder of Pixar, John Lasseter, as head of its animation division. Lasseter, regarded as a modern day Walt Disney because of his creativity and commercial success, left Disney late last year. His exit followed a six-month leave of absence after what he called “missteps,” including unwanted hugs that made employees uncomfortable. “… We did not enter into this decision lightly. John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the…

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