Obama, Hu Begin Bridging Divide

Superpowers work to find common ground on nukes, climate, economy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 17, 2009 6:08 AM CST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at a meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, China, Monday, Nov. 16, 2009.   (Elizabeth Dalziel)
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(Newser) – President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao emerged from intense talks today determined to marshal their combined clout on crucial issues, but still showing divisions over economic, security, and human rights issues that have long bedeviled the two powers. "The relationship between our two nations goes far beyond any single issue," Obama said after 2 1/2 hours of closed-door conversations. The two described US-Chinese relations as "positive, cooperative, and comprehensive."

On the table in Obama's first visit to China:

  • North KoreaObama and Hu agreed to restart the six-nation effort to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear program. The Chinese called the effort essential to "peace and stability in northeast Asia."
  • Iran—The US needs China's clout to pressure Tehran on its nuclear ambitions. Obama threatened "consequences," while Hu emphasized negotiations.
  • Taiwan/Tibet—Hu called on the US to respect China's "core interests"—code for ending support for Taiwan and the Dalai Lama. Obama obliged by saying that Tibet was part of China, but urged China to restart talks with the Dalai Lama's reps.
  • Climate changeObama said the goal at Copenhagen should be an agreement that has "immediate operational effect." Hu committed to helping, but only within China's capabilities.
  • Human rightsNo progress, but the two set a date for resuming a long-stalled dialogue on human rights early next year.