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Obama and Hu 'urge closer ties'

Hu Jintao and Barack Obama
China and the US are key players in the global economy

US President Barack Obama has telephoned his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, the White House says.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs gave no further details, but China's Xinhua news agency said both had "expressed willingness to further ties".

Mr Hu said China was ready to "expand co-operation... to confront various global challenges together", it said.

The US and China have not always seen eye to eye on the causes of the current global crisis.

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner accused China of "currency manipulation" aimed at keeping its export prices low - sustaining its large trade imbalance with the US.

Then, in a speech at the economic summit at Davos earlier this week, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao blamed "inappropriate macro-economic policies" for the crisis, in what correspondents say was a swipe at the US.

Mr Hu is the latest in a string of foreign leaders Mr Obama has contacted since taking office 10 days ago.

According to the Xinhua report, Mr Hu "said the core interest of either country should be respected by each other and taken into consideration". He said the two should co-ordinate macro-economic policy and resist protectionism.

Mr Obama, meanwhile, described Sino-US ties as "the most important bilateral relations for both sides".

"Enhancing bilateral constructive dialogue and co-operation is in the interest of not only the two countries themselves, but the world at large", Xinhua quoted him as saying.



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