- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

[12:15 p.m.]

President Bush today greeted Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House with direct appeals for more help on easing nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea and for reducing trade imbalances.

Mr. Hu promised to work for closer U.S. ties on a host of issues, particularly economic problems.

The South Lawn welcoming ceremony for Hu’s first visit as Chinese leader was briefly marred by the screams of a woman critical of Mr. Hu, and hundreds of demonstrators massed outside to protest Beijing’s human-rights policies.

Reciting a specific list of U.S. concerns, Mr. Bush emphasized “the importance of human rights,” said that China should do more to make its currency more flexible, and urged those on both sides of the Taiwan Strait “to avoid confrontational or provocative acts.”

Mr. Hu, speaking through an interpreter, pledged diplomatic help with both North Korea and Iran. And he vowed in general terms to work to promote human rights.

“We should respect each other as equals and promote closer exchanges and cooperation,” Hu said. As to Taiwan, Hu said the self-governing island “is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. We will continue to make every effort and endeavor with every sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification of the two sides.”

The emphasis by both leaders on U.S.-Chinese differences was unusual for the kind of White House welcoming ceremony usually dominated by pomp and pageantry. The talks with Mr. Bush were not expected to produce substantive gains in the trade dispute, nor any breakthrough on another major irritant - China’s tightly controlled currency.

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