Vice President Mike Pence speaks following a tour on the USNS Comfort, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Miami. Image Credit: AP

WASHINGTON. US Vice-President Mike Pence on Friday called off a planned China speech that had been cast as a sequel to a blistering broadside he delivered in October to avoid exacerbating tensions with Beijing before summit talks next week, a White House official said.

The decision to put off the Monday speech came ahead of what could be a pivotal meeting on the US-China trade war between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, next week.

The two nations have slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods, and the Trump-Xi meeting is aimed at discussing whether a further escalation can be avoided.

“There is room for progress, and even if incremental, we didn’t want to step on that potential,” a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity about why the speech was called off.