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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 02:52 GMT 03:52 UK
Bush presses China over currency
US President George W Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao
It is Hu Jintao's first official visit to the White House as Chinese leader
President George W Bush has urged the Chinese president to do more to close the US-China trade gap, and to take a sterner line with Iran and North Korea.

There were no breakthroughs at talks in Washington, though President Hu Jintao said China would "continue to take steps" to revalue China's currency.

A speech by President Hu at the White House was disrupted by a protester from the Falun Gong religious sect.

President Bush later said he regretted the "unfortunate" incident.

The female protester - identified as Wenyi Wang, an accredited journalist with the Epoch Times newspaper - yelled out from the media section during Mr Hu's speech.

"President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong," she shouted, in reference to the outlawed Chinese spiritual movement.

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

After shouting for several minutes, she was led away by White House security staff. The newspaper - which is understood to be supportive of the Falun Gong movement - later issued an apology.

The incident highlights the difficult relationship between the two countries - the US wants China to improve its human rights record but recognises the country's huge economic clout, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington.

Mr Bush urged Mr Hu to take action over the yuan. US producers say its low value is a barrier to exports to China, and has contributed to the massive US trade deficit with China - which reached $202bn (113bn) last year.

Mr Bush said: "We would hope there would be more appreciation [of the currency]".

Mr Hu said: "We have taken measures and will continue to take steps to resolve the issue," though he did not give any details.

Nuclear crises

Mr Bush asked for China's help to restart stalled negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programme.

"I continue to seek President Hu's advice and co-operation and urge his nation to use its considerable influence with North Korea to make meaningful progress toward a Korean peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons," Mr Bush said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Competitive nations should not fear Chinese economic power
Robert G, Kansas City, USA

Mr Hu pledged that China would try to help resolve nuclear disputes with both Iran and North Korea, but insisted on a diplomatic solution.

"We are ready to continue to work with the US... to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula and the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations," he said.

The US has refused to rule out military action against Iran.

Mr Hu, on his first US visit as Chinese leader, was welcomed at the White House in a colourful ceremony with military honours - although the trip is not a full state visit, and will not feature a black-tie formal dinner.

Protester at the White House
Wenyi Wang waved a banner in Falun Gong's colours
Outside the White House, demonstrators massed to protest against Beijing's human-rights policies.

Hundreds of people banged gongs, held up banners and chanted and waved American and Chinese flags.

In his speech, Mr Bush said he would "continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people".

Earlier, in a protocol gaffe, when China's national anthem was announced, it was referred to as the anthem of the Republic of China - the formal name of Taiwan. China's formal name is the People's Republic of China.


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See the protest at the White House



SEE ALSO:
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Q&A: Hu Jintao's visit to the US
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