China offered its most positive message in recent weeks that trade talks with the U.S. are going smoothly after a phone call Tuesday between the countries’ top negotiators, raising the prospects for a limited deal.

China’s Commerce Ministry said the two sides had “reached a consensus on properly resolving related issues.” The message, though short and formulaic, followed a phone call between China’s chief trade negotiator, Liu He, and his U.S. counterparts, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The upbeat language comes after the Chinese Communist Party’s top policy-making body and the state’s cabinet over the weekend issued guidelines for stronger protection of intellectual-property rights, a core concern for Washington in the long-running trade dispute.


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