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China and US 'to work together'

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President Hu: "Our two countries need to oppose and reject protectionism"

The presidents of China and the US have agreed to work together to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems.

On climate change, Barack Obama said both sides agreed on the need for a comprehensive global deal in Copenhagen next month, not a political statement.

Mr Obama and Hu Jintao also agreed to push for North Korea to re-enter stalled talks on its nuclear programme.

But underlying tensions were referred to, with Hu Jintao calling for joint opposition to trade protectionism.

The two leaders held two hours of talks in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, on the edge of Tiananmen Square.

Both leaders then held a joint media event at which they read out statements, but took no questions from listening journalists.

Mr Obama came to China for his first visit as president emphasising that China was now a major player on the world stage - and he turned to that point again in Beijing.

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"The major challenges of the 21st Century from climate change to nuclear proliferation to economic recovery are challenges that touch both our nations, and challenges that neither of our nations can solve by acting alone," he said.

With world leaders meeting in Copenhagen next month to discuss how to tackle global warming, climate change is perhaps the most pressing issue to resolve.

Mr Obama appeared to raise hopes that a deal could be struck in Copenhagen.

"Our aim there is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect," said Mr Obama.

The comment seemed to be at odds with a much less ambitious statement from world leaders, including Mr Obama and Mr Hu, on Saturday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum.

Tibet tension

Standing next to President Hu, Mr Obama also took up a theme that has previously proved contentious between the two countries.

He said China should resume talks with representatives of Tibet's exiled leader the Dalai Lama to resolve differences over the Himalayan region.

China says the Dalai Lama is trying to split Tibet from the rest of the country and last year said previous talks had achieved nothing.

President Hu said China and the US would hold talks about human rights and religious freedom.

But, in an indication of China's rising power and influence, he said the two counties should now treat each other as equals.

"We will continue to act in a spirit of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs," said Mr Hu, who spoke first at the media event.

He added that "trade friction", which has recently increased between China and the United States, should be resolved on an "equal footing".

Graph showing US and Chinese trade

"I stressed to President Obama that under the current circumstances our two countries need to oppose all kinds of trade protectionism even more strongly," he said.

Later in the day, Mr Obama met the chairman of China's parliament, Wu Bangguo, and attended a state banquet.

The US leader, who is not being accompanied by his family on the tour of China, is also fitting in visits to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.

Mr Obama earlier visited Japan and Singapore on what is his first visit to Asia as US president. He is scheduled to fly to South Korea after leaving China on Wednesday.



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