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US, China Seek to Mend Fences During Security, Finance Talks

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Chinese President Hu Jintao offered warm smiles and handshakes to U.S. presidential advisers Larry Summer and Thomas Donilon in on Wednesday as China and the United States made a high profile effort to stabilize their often rocky relationship.

China holds a positive outlook for their discussions, said President Hu, telling U.S. National Economic Council Director Summers and Deputy National Security Adviser Donilon that Bejing is seeking fresh progress in China-U.S. relations. And he added the Chinese are willing to work together with the United States in promoting what the President Hu described as the advancement of healthy and stable China-U.S. relations.

His meeting with Summers and Donilon, which came at the end of three days of talks for the U.S. officials, is a sign of the importance China places on the relationship.  Normally Mr. Hu reserves his meetings for more senior national leaders.

After months of friction over trade balances, currency exchange rates and security issues, officials from both countries say they are pleased with the results of this week's meetings.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said the two sides held frank, productive and detailed discussions on several bilateral and international issues.  Efforts to end North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs were among the topics discussed.

"In keeping with President Obama's vision for the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, the United States seeks to expand cooperation in the many areas where our countries' interests coincide, while we will speak frankly and with respect when we disagree," said the spokesperson.

The two thorniest topics for the two sides are trade and security.  Summers and Donilon met with Chinese finance and defense officials this week.

Many U.S. politicians are angry at China's trade surplus along with U.S. business owners and economists who accuse China of keeping its currency weak to make its exports unfairly cheap.  But China said the problem is not its currency, and the United States needs to adjust its economy.

The United States also has been concerned with China's military expansion and its reluctance to back tougher sanctions against Iran and North Korea.  Beijing has been angered by U.S. military drills with South Korea near China's coastal waters, and by U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan.

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