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Bush, Obama Discuss Plans for Transition


Both U.S. President George Bush and his successor, Barack Obama, are emphasizing the importance of a smooth transition, so Mr. Obama can tackle the country's economic problems as soon as he takes office on January 20. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.

President-elect Obama says his administration will start working to restore the U.S. economy from his first day in office. In the weekly Democratic Party radio address Saturday, Mr. Obama called on Congress to approve an economic stimulus package as soon as possible. He also laid out his priorities for fixing the economy.

"First, we need a rescue plan for the middle class, that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provides relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear," said Mr. Obama.

"Then, we will address the spreading impact of the financial crisis on other sectors of our economy, and ensure that the rescue plan that passed Congress is working to stabilize financial markets, while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners and not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance," he continued.

Mr. Obama said a report this week that the U.S. economy has lost 1.2 million jobs this year underscores the importance of immediate action when he takes office.

"In the wake of these disturbing reports, I met with members of my transition economic advisory board, who will help guide the work of my transition team in developing a strong set of policies to respond to this crisis," he said. "While we must recognize that we only have one president at a time, and that President Bush is the leader of our government, I want to ensure that we hit the ground running on January 20, because we do not have a moment to lose."

President Bush, in his weekly radio address, said he would do everything in his power to help Mr. Obama succeed.

"When I called President-elect Obama to congratulate him on his historic victory, I told him that he can count on my complete cooperation as he makes his transition to the White House," he said. "Ensuring that this transition is seamless is a top priority for the rest of my time in office."

Mr. Bush will meet with Mr. Obama at the White House on Monday, to discuss the transition. Mr. Obama says he looks forward to the meeting, and he appreciates his predecessor's cooperation.

"This speaks to a fundamental recognition that here in America, we can compete vigorously in elections and challenge each other's ideas, yet come together in service of a common purpose once the voting is done," he said. "And that is particularly important at a moment when we face the most serious challenges of our lifetime."

President Bush says ensuring a smooth transition is a matter of national security. "This will also be America's first wartime presidential transition in four decades," he said.

"We are in a struggle against violent extremists determined to attack us, and they would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change to harm the American people. So my administration will work hard to ensure that the next president and his team can hit the ground running," he added.

Mr. Bush says the White House and federal agencies have been working for more than a year to make sure the next president can get off to a quick start.

Until then, the president says he will continue to address the nation's economic problems, and he urges Congress to approve free trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. He will also host an economic summit in Washington on November 15.

Meanwhile, an aide to President-elect Obama says the future U.S. leader did not give Poland any commitment on a missile defense shield. Polish President Lech Kaczynski claims Mr. Obama would go ahead with plans to install the system in eastern Europe. Mr. Obama's aide Denis McDonough confirms the two men spoke by telephone Friday, but says the president-elect only supports a missile defense shield when "the technology is proved to be workable."


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