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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 00:41 GMT 01:41 UK
Chinese leader tours Boeing plant
Chinese President Hu Jintao with Boeing CEO Alan Mulally
The Chinese president said ties with Boeing benefited both sides
Chinese President Hu Jintao has visited the plant of US aircraft maker Boeing in Washington state, a day before talks with President George W Bush.

The Boeing tour fell on the second day of Mr Hu's US visit, just days after China agreed to purchase 80 Boeing 737s from America's largest exporter.

He told workers ties between Boeing and China showed the "win-win outcome" of trade between the two nations.

He later left for the capital for talks expected to focus on trade ties.

Baseball hat

A day after a tour of the Microsoft headquarters and a meeting with founder Bill Gates, Mr Hu toured the production lines of aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Chinese textile factory
The US had a $202bn trade deficit with China in 2005
The US is China's second largest trade partner while China is the fourth largest market for the US

He praised ties between China and Boeing, calling co-operation between the two sides "a living example of the mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win outcome that China and the United States have achieved from trade".

He told workers that China would need to buy 2,000 aircraft over the next 15 years.

Mr Hu was given a baseball hat from a Boeing employee and in an unusual step, hugged the worker who presented it to him.

Later, the Chinese leader attended a lunch with 600 of Seattle's business leaders and officials.

Given the scope of China-US trade ties, it was "hardly avoidable that some problems" had occurred, he told the audience.

"We should properly address these problems through consultation and dialogue on an equal footing as we work to expand our business ties," he said.

Trade deficit

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy says the friendly welcome Mr Hu has received in Washington State is likely to be tempered in Washington DC.

His visit comes amid growing US anger over the size of its trade deficit with China, which reached $202bn (113bn) last year.

We should properly address these problems through consultation and dialogue on an equal footing as we work to expand our business ties
President Hu Jintao

Washington has blamed Beijing for the spiralling US trade deficit with China, saying its currency has been deliberately kept down to spur exports.

Many US politicians want strong action unless China revalues the yuan.

Last year Washington slapped import curbs on Chinese textile imports. A group of US senators has threatened penalties on a wider range of goods.

Beijing - which raised the yuan's value against the dollar by 2% last year - has denied claims of currency manipulation.

The two countries recently signed $4bn in bilateral trade deals and hope to foster greater cooperation in key industrial sectors such as energy, transport and software.

Apart from trade relations, Mr Bush is also keen to enlist Chinese help in his continuing struggle to get Iran to comply with American demands over uranium enrichment, our correspondent says.

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