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Obama welcomes Xi in Oval Office

By Liu Linlin (Global Times)

09:11, February 15, 2012

Vice President Xi Jinping met with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office in the White House Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

Vice President Xi Jinping met with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office in the White House Tuesday, on the second day of his five-day visit to the world's largest economy.

Xi said he hoped his visit would deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the two sides.

Obama tactfully referred to trade and currency tensions and human rights disputes between the two giant economies, and said Washington intended to remain a key power in the Asia-Pacific region despite China's rise.

Stressing a desire for cooperation, Obama nevertheless said China's "extraordinary development over the last two decades" brought expanding power and prosperity but also "increased responsibilities" for Beijing.

Obama said Washington wanted to manage tensions with China in a "constructive way" and wanted to tackle key issues like Iran, the North Korean nuclear challenge and global economic crises together.

Prior to the talks, Xi also met with US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"It is a sign of the strength and maturity of our relationship that we are able to talk candidly about our differences," Biden said during the talks.

The treatment at the Oval Office, an honor usually reserved for the US' closest allies, shows the US president took a cautious line in their first meeting, as Xi is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the White House since Obama launched a new US "pivot" toward Asia in November, Reuters commented.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher at the Institute of US Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that there was no need to romanticize Sino-US relations, as the high-level welcome and intense media coverage were business as usual.

"During President Hu Jintao's visit last year, the two sides achieved the 'cooperative partnership' relationship. Xi's visit is the continuance of this consensus," Tao said.

Xi's visit coincided with the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of US President Richard Nixon's landmark trip to China, which came with the Shanghai Communique, a diplomatic accord that began the process of normalizing relations between the two nations.

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