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White House Keeps Low Profile on Chinese VP's Visit With Bush - 2002-05-02


President Bush has met at the White House with Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao, the man expected to become China's next leader. They conferred Wednesday for about half an hour in the president's office.

The two men met briefly once before during President Bush's trip to Beijing in February. This was their first chance to sit down for substantive talks.

White House officials indicated President Bush had many things he wanted to discuss with Hu Jintao. But they made clear this meeting in Washington was important because it gave Mr. Bush an opportunity to really "take the measure" of Vice President Hu.

And so they kept the meeting relatively private. No reporters were allowed in to record the beginning or the end of the session. And Mr. Hu offered only a wave but no formal remarks as he left the White House. When someone shouted a question about the meeting he just smiled and said the session was "quite good."

Spokesman Ari Fleischer said during the meeting President Bush talked about the importance of U.S. China relations and said he is "pleased" with that relationship. Mr. Fleischer said the president expressed the belief that the United State and China can work well together.

The White House spokesman said the two men discussed the war on terrorism, agricultural issues, Taiwan, missile proliferation, trade and human rights. He did not provide details.

Vice President Hu has kept a low profile during the trip his first visit to the United States. He has avoided public comment, but is scheduled to give a major policy address to business leaders and academics before leaving Washington Thursday.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was his official host during his stay in the nation's capital. Mr. Hu also met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Congressional leaders.

Hu Jintao is largely unknown outside China. He is expected to take over the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party later this year, and to become China's president in 2003.

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