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US Officials Look Ahead to Chinese President's State Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama meets China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).

U.S. President Barack Obama meets China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).

Obama administration officials have been laying the groundwork for next week's state visit by China's President Hu Jintao and talks at the White House with President Obama. U.S. officials spoke to reporters on Friday about the overall goals for President Obama in his talks with Mr. Hu

The administration has used speeches by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, to explain what they see as the stakes for the Chinese president's visit.

In remarks on Friday, Secretary Clinton addressed a range of issues on the U.S.-China relationship, from human rights to North Korea and economic and trade relations.

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At the White House news briefing, President Obama's National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, amplified many of the points that Secretary Clinton and others made. And Geithner made a surprise appearance to underscore key points about the U.S-China trade relationship and currency issues.

Donilon said the Obama administration has worked hard from the beginning to achieve a great power relationship with China, as with other nations, that is positive, cooperative and comprehensive, but also through persistent engagement.

Next week's state visit will begin with what a small private dinner attended only by President Obama, President Hu, and Secretary of State Clinton with similar representation by officials on the Chinese side.

That informal gathering will be the eighth face-to face meeting between Mr. Obama and President Hu, the last taking place in Seoul during the G-20 summit last November. Further bilateral talks occur on Wednesday, along with a joint news conference and a formal state dinner.

Donilon listed four key areas of discussion -- the overall U.S.-China relationship and how that will develop in the next two decades, security and political issues, including North Korea, Iran and military to military ties, economic and trade issues including currency issues, and human rights.

Donilon called North Korea a key issue, saying the U.S. has worked hard with Beijing to obtain greater cooperation in pushing back against Pyongyang over its provocations. "On encouraging the North Koreans to cease their provocations and to push back toward a diplomatic frame, especially conversation directly between the North and the South. We have had I think close cooperation frankly with the Chinese on that in conjunction with our allies," he said.

On human rights, Donilon again referred to remarks by Secretary Clinton who said the U.S. would continue to speak out and to press China over issues of censorship and prisoners of conscience and religious freedom.

In her remarks, Clinton again called on China to release dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year jail term for sedition.

Donilon said President Obama regularly raises human rights issues with China, noting that on Thursday Mr. Obama called in a group of human rights experts to brief him ahead of President Hu's visit, along with regular dialogues with Beijing.

Secretary Geithner said the U.S. will be speaking candidly and openly about concerns and objectives in China's market.

On currency issues, a key irritant in relations, he said China's currency has already risen substantially in value, saying the trend in the early stages is a positive one for U.S. manufacturers are concerned. "Again, the important thing is again even though they are only in the early stages of this process, companies now because they have to plan ahead, will be making decisions on the reality that that competitive balance is now going to moving once again in our favor, and that is a good thing," he said.

In addition to their talks next week, President Obama and President Hu will take part in a session with Chinese and American business executives, focused on trade and investment opportunities, job creation, and the issue of market access.

The Chinese leader is also scheduled to meet with U.S. House and Senate congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, before he leaves Washington for events in the Midwest city of Chicago.