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November 18, 2009

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Hu, Obama join hands on key issues

PRESIDENT Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama promised a determined, joint effort to tackle the financial crisis, climate change, nuclear disarmament and other global problems after their first full-blown summit yesterday in Beijing.

After two hours of talks and a separate meeting over dinner the night before, the leaders spoke of moving beyond the divisiveness over human rights, trade and military tensions that have bedeviled relations in past decades.

"The major challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to nuclear proliferation to economic recovery, are challenges that touch both our nations, and challenges that neither of our nations can solve by acting alone," Obama said, standing with Hu at a joint press conference in the Great Hall of the People.

Hu said: "There are growing global challenges, and countries in today's world have become more and more interdependent."

Obama, making his first trip to China, said he was striving mostly to better understand the country.

"Our relationship going forward will not be without disagreement or difficulty," Obama said. "But because of our cooperation, both the United States and China are more prosperous and secure."

"The relationship between our two nations goes far beyond any single issue," Obama said. "I do not believe that one country's success must come at the expense of another."

Both leaders repeated their new official description of relations as "positive, cooperative and comprehensive."

They emphasized cooperation on the economy, climate change, energy and the nuclear issues of Iran and North Korea. They also established a date for resuming a dialogue on human rights early next year.

The two countries have pledged to rebalance each other's economy and move in tandem on "forward-looking monetary polices" for a strong and durable global economic recovery, according to a China-US joint statement.

"China will continue to implement policies to adjust economic structure, raise household incomes, expand domestic demand to increase contribution of consumption to GDP growth and reform its social security system," according to the statement issued after the leaders' talks.

The US, in return, will take measures to increase national savings as a share of its gross domestic product and promote sustainable non-inflationary growth.

"To achieve this, the US is committed to returning the federal budget deficit to a sustainable path and pursuing measures to encourage private saving," it said.

Obama said China has helped the US pull out of recession. He said a revised economic approach will help increase US exports and create jobs while helping to bring about higher living standards in China.

Recognizing the importance of open trade and investment to their domestic and the global economies, the two countries expressed a commitment to fight protectionism.

"We both agreed to properly handle trade frictions through negotiations on an equal basis and to make concerted efforts to boost bilateral trade and economic ties in a healthy and steady way," Hu told the joint press conference.

The leaders also committed their countries to backing a detailed political agreement at next month's climate-change conference in Copenhagen.

In their formula, rich countries would commit to reduction targets while developing nations would agree to meet softer goals that would be monitored.

Obama and Hu also said they agreed on restarting the collapsed six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programs. China said the effort was essential to "peace and stability in northeast Asia."


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