Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Obama meets Bush at White House


President Bush welcomes Barack Obama to the White House

US President-elect Barack Obama has held his first meeting with incumbent George W Bush since last week's decisive election victory.

Both sides described the White House talks, which lasted just under two hours, as friendly and productive.

Few details were revealed about their private talks but Iraq, the financial crisis and the issue of transition had all been expected to come up.

Meanwhile, reports suggest Mr Obama is set to tackle the Guantanamo Bay issue.

Mr Bush and Mr Obama hold talks in the Oval Office
The talks were the first time Mr Obama had stepped inside the Oval Office
The incoming president has already indicated he could reverse controversial Bush administration policies soon after he takes office on 20 January.

His transition chief has suggested executive orders on issues such as stem cell research and oil drilling could be repealed.

The latest reports suggest his team is putting together a plan under which detainees in the widely-condemned detention camp in Cuba would be released or transferred to the US.

'Broad discussion'

Mr Obama and his wife, Michelle, both visited the building that will be their home for the next four years.

The incoming and outgoing presidents shook hands before heading to the Oval Office - Mr Obama's first visit to the famous seat of power.

First Lady Laura Bush, meanwhile, gave Mrs Obama a tour of the personal quarters of the White House.

Mr Obama and Mr Bush walk to the Oval Office

Both men had taken care to speak respectfully about each other ahead of the talks - arranged, analysts say, with unusual haste because the US is at war and because the transition is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis.

Afterwards a statement from the president-elect said the discussions had been wide-ranging. His spokesman said they discussed the housing and auto industries among wider economic issues.

Mr Bush and Mr Obama "had a broad discussion about the importance of working together throughout the transition of government in light of the nation's many critical economic and security challenges", the statement said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, meanwhile, said Mr Bush had called the talks relaxed and constructive, but declined to comment on specifics.

Stem cell move

Reports from Washington suggest Mr Obama's transition team has been working hard to identify issues where early changes could be made.

Limited federal funding for medical research using human embryo stem cells
Aid groups receiving US aid barred from counselling women about abortion availability
California barred from imposing minimum standards of vehicle fuel efficiency
Utah land being opened up for oil and gas drilling

Mr Obama's advisers are said to be putting together a plan to release a group of detainees from the Guanatanamo Bay detention centre and to transfer most of the rest to the American prison and courts system.

A third group who cannot be tried in public because of national security concerns could, reports the BBC's Justin Webb, be brought before a new court designed specifically for the purpose of dealing with them.

The Washington Post newspaper, meanwhile, reported that transition officials had compiled a list of some 200 executive orders to be considered.

Laura Bush and Michelle Obama at the White House
Laura Bush showed Michelle Obama around her new home

Mr Obama's transition chief John Podesta has said executive orders on stem cell research or oil drilling in Utah can easily be repealed, as no congressional action is needed.

The Washington Post said other orders affecting environmental legislation and abortion issues were also under consideration.

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," Mr Podesta said.

Potential plans for a last-minute rush of executive decisions by the White House were also being watched carefully, he added.

While Mr Obama returned to Chicago after the White House visit, Mrs Obama headed for visits to several private schools in Washington - including Sidwell, the Quaker school once attended by Chelsea Clinton.

Their two children, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, currently attend a private school in Chicago.

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