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Obama, Cabinet meet for mid-year assessment

world Updated: Aug 01, 2009 08:18 IST

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, senior officials and Cabinet members were gathering away from the White House this weekend to discuss administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead.

The meetings were scheduled to take place at Blair House, the government guest property across from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Obama and Biden walked over together on Friday evening, chatting as they went, to join their colleagues for dinner. They were scheduled to return to the White House, again by foot, later Friday night.

Several hours of meetings were scheduled for Saturday, though Obama was not expected to attend. The president was departing Saturday morning for a weekend at Camp David. Biden was to deliver remarks to open the second day of meetings.

"It's an opportunity for the president and the vice president, senior White House staff and Cabinet officials all to get together and talk about the agendas, both past and forward," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

The dinner Friday and meetings Saturday were closed to the media. Gibbs said virtually every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has conducted a similar assessment.

"It's not a mid-course correction or a report card," he said. "It's just an opportunity for everyone to get together on hopefully a little bit less hectic pace, rather than seeing each other at a meeting for 15 or 30 minutes."

A likely topic of discussion is the economy.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the US economy shrank at a pace of just 1 percent in the second quarter. It was a better showing than economists expected, and the strongest sign yet that the longest recession since World War II is winding down. Obama attributed the positive performance to the $787 billion economic stimulus plan he pushed through Congress after taking office. He said Friday that "this and other difficult but important steps that we've taken over the last six months have helped us put the brakes on the recession."