Relations between the United States and China will be critical to success on a whole host of global issues, US President Barack Obama said on Monday at the start of a two-day gathering of top officials from both countries.
"The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century," Obama said in Washington, urging progress on confronting the global economic crisis, climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
China's State Councillor Dai Bingguo said the interests of the US and China "have never been interwoven so closely" and both countries would have to work together to help the global economy recover from a deep recession.
Obama said that bridging the divides between the two powers - the world's first and third-largest economies - was now often a "prerequisite" for finding global agreements.
The US delegation is led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. They will meet with Bingguo and China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The talks are expected to be dominated by the global economic crisis.
Obama urged China to begin boosting domestic demand and begin shifting from a dependence on exports, in order to help put the global economy on a more "solid foundation". The US has been concerned that China is saving too much as the global economic downturn has prompted a decrease in consumer consumption.
China is likely to press the US on its skyrocketing budget deficit, driven in part by Obama's massive spending to jump-start the economy. Washington's deficit is expected to reach $1.8 trillion this year.