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Clinton wraps up first Asian trip

Hillary Clinton speaks to students during a visit to the Taiyanggong Geothermal Power Plant in Beijing, China, 21 February 2009
Battling climate change has been one of the key topics during the visit

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met Chinese civil society leaders in Beijing, as she concluded her first foreign trip as top US diplomat.

Mrs Clinton started the third and final day of her stay in China by attending a church service. She then met academics, journalists and entrepreneurs.

She has used meetings with China's leaders to urge stronger US-China ties.

She said bilateral co-operation on global issues such as climate change and the economy was "imperative".

These would take precedence over points of friction between the two governments, such as human rights and Tibet, she added.

Her week-long Asian tour has included stops in Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

Busy day

Mrs Clinton began her last day in China by attending a service at the government-approved Haidian Church.

The US believes it cannot solve any of these problems unless China is involved
The BBC's James Reynolds

She then headed to the US embassy to host a forum with a small group of female academics, non-governmental organisation leaders, journalists and entrepreneurs.

Mrs Clinton said that she wanted to know about the obstacles facing women in China, and was told about campaigns for Aids patients in the country as well as the need for females at high levels in the Chinese government.

The secretary of state ended her official engagements by taking part in a web chat with the China Daily - the Chinese government's main English-language newspaper.

Crucial dialogue

On Saturday, Mrs Clinton held talks with President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Issues topping the agenda during these discussions were the global economy, climate change and negotiations with North Korea.

Before arriving in Beijing, Mrs Clinton said the debate with China over human rights, Taiwan and Tibet should not interfere with attempts to reach consensus on broader issues.

Asked whether she had raised the issue of human rights, Mrs Clinton said she had held candid discussions on the subject with Mr Yang, the BBC's James Reynolds in China says.

Mr Yang said the two sides saw the subject differently, our correspondent says, but he stressed that China did respect human rights.

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