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Bush, Hu Pledge Cooperation during Beijing Talks

President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao have agreed to work together to combat the spread of Avian Flu, reduce their countries' trade imbalance, and stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The presidents walked a red carpet through the Great Hall of the People past an honor guard of Chinese troops in olive green uniforms.

Making statements to reporters who were not permitted to ask questions of the leaders, President Bush and President Hu vowed to work together to combat the spread of Avian Flu.

President Hu said China is committed to a consortium of world health officials preparing for a possible pandemic if that flu mutates into a virus that can be spread between humans.

"We both believe that the spread, and the possible spread to humans of the avian flu is a common threat facing all countries in this world and we reached agreement on strengthening a joint initiative on better cooperation in the prevention and control of the avian flu," he said.

President Bush thanked President Hu for taking the lead in talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

The fourth round of those talks between the United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea ended with a commitment from Pyongyang to abandon all nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programs. President Bush says he expects those commitments to be honored.

Mr. Bush says the United States and China are important trading partners that benefit from a system of free and fair trade. But that trade is out of balance with Americans buying $6 worth of Chinese products for every $1 worth of U.S. goods sold in China.

President Bush says U.S. officials with work with China to implement its July commitment to a flexible, market-based currency.

"We will continue to work with China to open up markets and level the playing field for American goods and services and work with China to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights," he said.

President Bush says Chinese leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation by meeting what he calls the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness.

"It is important that social, political, and religious freedoms grow in China and we encourage China to continue making the historic transition to greater freedom," he said.

President Hu says the Chinese people are already exercising their rights in democratic elections and democratic decision making according to law.

Given their different histories, cultures, and natural conditions, the Chinese leader says it is inevitable that China and the United States may have some different opinions on some issues but they ought to follow a spirit of mutual respect in resolving them.

Earlier on this trip, President Bush held up Beijing's rival Taiwan as an example of a nation that has moved from repression to democracy by liberalizing its economy and creating a democratic Chinese society.

President Hu reaffirmed China's commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan straits but said he will by no means tolerate Taiwanese independence.

"To oppose and check so-called Taiwan independence and safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan straits serves the common interests of China and the United States," he said.

President Bush invited President Hu to the White House next year, an invitation the Chinese leader says he accepted with pleasure.

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