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Mutual interests bring China and US together, says Obama

UNITED States President Barack Obama said yesterday that the United States and China shared mutual interests and could cooperate in a variety of fields, adding that the two countries shared common ambitions despite their differences.

Opening two days of bilateral talks in Washington DC, Obama said the US and China needed to overcome mutual wariness and deepen cooperation on everything from the global economic crisis to climate change and North Korea.

"If we advance those interests through cooperation, our people will benefit, and the world will be better off - because our ability to partner with each other is a prerequisite for progress on many of the most pressing global challenges," he said at the first round of China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).

"Let's be honest: we know that some are wary of the future," Obama said, acknowledging the two countries would never see eye to eye on every issue but needed to think of themselves as partners rather than rivals.

"The relationship between the US and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world," he said. "That reality must underpin our partnership.

"This dialogue represents a commitment to shape our young century through sustained cooperation, not confrontation."

Vice Premier Wang Qishan, the top Chinese official at the talks, said the world economy was at a critical moment, moving out of crisis and toward recovery.

Wang said China's economy had responded to stimulus efforts and "is showing increasing signs of stabilization and rebound."

"I'm confident this crisis will finally be over," he said.

Obama said the US and China could promote financial stability through greater transparency and regulatory reform, pursue free and fair trade and seek to conclude "an ambitious and balanced Doha Round," referring to long-running global trade talks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons but said the path ahead would not always be easy.

"We cannot expect to be united on every issue at every turn, but we can be of one mind and heart on the need to find this common ground as we build a common and better future," she said.

Obama said the US and China "must continue our collaboration to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and make it clear to North Korea that the path to security and respect can be traveled if they meet their obligations."

Chinese and US officials will hold a joint press conference and respective briefings to announce results of the talks.

The dialogue mechanism was upgraded from the former Strategic Dialogue and biennial Strategic Economic Dialogue, which were initiated by the two heads of state in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Chinese officials will also meet with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and World Bank Chief Economist Justin Lin.


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