Obama meets Chinese President Hu Jintao

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Beijing, Nov.17 (ANI): Visiting US President Barack Obama has met his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in the Great Hall of the People here and both are due to address the media shortly.

Obama arrived in the Chinese capital this morning from Shanghai and according to reports, is expected to continue what he called "a meeting of the minds" about how their nations can lead on global issues.

After his meeting with Hu, Obama will take a tour of the Forbidden City.

So far, Obama has struck a mostly conciliatory tone toward China during the first half of his eight-day Asian trip.

In Shanghai yesterday, he told his student audience that the US is not seeking to contain China's rise.

"On the contrary, we welcome China as a strong and prosperous and successful member of the community of nations-a China that draws on the rights, strengths, and creativity of individual Chinese like you," he said.

The American president used the same forum to prod China on human rights and freedom.

In addition to speaking to and taking questions from a group of about 400 students selected by their universities, Obama also answered queries submitted via the Internet.

He also called for unfettered Internet access a source of strength for any nation.

China, with more than 330 million Internet users, blocks access to Web sites such as the Facebook social network and those dealing with sensitive political issues such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising.

"Unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think, should be encouraged," Obama said, adding that the criticism he receives in the U.S. "makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear."

Obama focused primarily on areas of cooperation during the hour-long forum and will seek to strengthen those ties in his meetings today, administration officials have said.

Climate change was one prominent area in which Obama said the U.S. and China have an opportunity to lead the world together.

Obama also said he sees no need to change Washington's "one-China" policy, which acknowledges China's position that Taiwan is part of its territory.

"I have been clear in the past that my administration fully supports a one-China policy. We don't want to change that policy and that approach," Obama said Monday.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. Beijing threatens to attack if Taiwan moves to formalize its de facto independence.

Trade and the global economy are other top issues for Obama while in China, the third stop on a four-nation trip to Asia. He told his audience yesterday that trade between the U.S. and China has driven economic growth in both countries and that a more balanced relationship will provide greater prosperity.

The administration estimates that every percentage point of increase in U.S. exports to Asia could create 250,000 U.S. jobs. (ANI)

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