Some US tariffs on China are likely to remain in place even in the event of a trade deal, the US has indicated.
US President Donald Trump told reporters that China was pushing for the removal of some tariffs as part of an agreement, but he said a "complete rollback" was off the table.
"They'd like to have a rollback... not a complete rollback because they know I won't do it," he said.
The two sides are trying to de-escalate the economically damaging trade war.
Negotiations have dragged on, despite Mr Trump's saying last month that the two sides had reached consensus on terms for a limited "phase one" agreement that could be signed within weeks.
Further complicating the talks, Chile recently cancelled plans to host two gatherings of world leaders. Those summits had been identified as possible venues for Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a pact.
On Friday, Mr Trump said that he wanted a deal, "assuming we get it", to be signed in the US.
Mr Trump's remarks followed claims by officials in both the US and China that the countries would remove some tariffs, should a deal be reached.
A spokesman for China's Commerce Ministry said the two sides had agreed to cancel the tariffs "in stages".
Reuters and Bloomberg reported that a US trade official had confirmed that tariffs would be lifted, should a deal be reached.
But US negotiators did not publicly endorse the report and Reuters later reported that the plan faced "fierce" internal opposition.
Economic strains caused by the trade war have weighed on global growth this year, after the US and China imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each others' goods.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that the US-China trade war will shave almost a percentage point off global growth in 2019.
In the US, the fight has particularly hit farmers, an important political constituency for Mr Trump.
On Friday, Mr Trump, who is up for re-election next year, denied that he felt pressure to strike a deal.
"China would like to make a deal much more than I would," he said.