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Obama, Hu begin talks at White House

US President Barack Obama and his visiting Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao began formal talks at the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday.

world Updated: Jan 19, 2011 23:55 IST

US President Barack Obama and his visiting Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao began formal talks at the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday.

As the two leaders sat on their chairs at the Oval office in front of the press pool, Obama and Hu were overheard discussing the weather in the city.

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

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

Obama and Hu are expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral and global issues, including human rights, White House officials said.

Earlier, the two leaders vowed to work together to address key global challenges and further strengthen their bilateral relations which both of them said was "important for peace and stability in the world."

In their welcome address, they made a gentle mention of their differences.

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

A day earlier White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had told reporters that Obama will be raising these issues with Hu during his meetings.

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

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

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

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

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

Obama paused in between his speech for the simultaneous translation into Chinese.

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

"Let us seize these opportunities together," the US president said.

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