Obama, Hu begin talks at White House

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 19 (PTI) US President Barack Obama andhis visiting Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao began formal talksat the Oval Office of the White House today.

As the two leaders sat on their chairs at the Ovaloffice in front of the press pool, Obama and Hu were overhearddiscussing the weather in the city.

Obama told Hu that the 35-degree weather in Washingtonwas "typical for this time of year."

But they soon got down to serious business as the poolwas ushered out of the room after about two minutes.

Obama and Hu are expected to discuss a wide range ofbilateral and global issues, including human rights, WhiteHouse officials said.

Earlier, the two leaders vowed to work together toaddress key global challenges and further strengthen theirbilateral relations which both of them said was "important forpeace and stability in the world."

In their welcome address, they made a gentle mentionof their differences.

Obama made a reference to human rights, while Hu said,"We should adopt a long-term perspective, seek common groundwhile reserving differences and work together to achievesustained, sound and steady development of our relations."

A day earlier White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbshad told reporters that Obama will be raising these issueswith Hu during his meetings.

"I think the President''s belief is it is important tospeak out, as he''s done, and it''s important to bring this updirectly with them," Gibbs said, responding to a question onwhy Hu has been invited for a State visit when his governmentcontinues to violate human rights of its own people.

This is the eighth meeting between Obama and Hu inlast two years.

"We believe, again, this is an important venue andforum with which to raise some of the concerns that you talkedabout earlier, and I have not heard voiced concern that we''renot meeting with the right person," he said.

Earlier in the day, Obama welcomed Hu at the WhiteHouse as the lemo of the visiting Chinese leader pulled in atthe South lawns and was then accorded a 21 gun salute.

"On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to theWhite House. And behalf on the America people, welcome to theUnited States," Obama said in his welcome address.

Obama paused in between his speech for thesimultaneous translation into Chinese.

He spoke on the economic rise of China, human rights,and the two countries working as future partners on a range ofissues.

"Let us seize these opportunities together," the USpresident said.

Speaking in Chinese, which was simultaneously beingtranslated into English, Hu said he had come to the US to"enhance trust", adding, he wanted to open a new chapter aspartners with the US.

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