Press Briefing by Jeff Bader, NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs
Via Conference Call
4:32 P.M. EDT
MR. BADER: Thank you very much. President Hu and President Obama met for about an hour and a half this afternoon. This is the fourth time they’ve met. They met earlier in London, in New York, and numerous meetings in Beijing during the visit. They last spoke on the phone on the 1st. I would describe the tone of today’s conversation as positive and constructive. It was a meeting without talking points -- a conversation between two leaders who are familiar and comfortable talking with each other about bilateral relations and where they stand.
The two Presidents discussed ways to expand our interests and responsibilities in dealing with global challenges, in particular non-proliferation and the global economic recovery. They agreed that the U.S. and China need to take concrete actions on these issues to underpin our development of a partnership.
Specifically on non-proliferation, much of the discussion of the meeting focused on Iran. The issue was discussed at length. The Chinese very clearly share our concern about the Iranian nuclear program. They share our overall goal of preservation of the non-proliferation regime. The U.S. and China, along with other members of the P5-plus-1, are united in our dual-track approach to the Iran nuclear issue.
During the meeting President Obama and Hu underscored their agreement that Iran must meet its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations. The two Presidents agreed to instruct their delegations to work with the P5-plus-1 and U.N. Security Council representatives on a sanctions resolution. The resolution will make clear to Iran the costs of pursuing a nuclear program that violates Iran’s obligations and responsibilities.
The discussion was as sign of international unity on Iran. The Chinese are actively at the table in New York in discussions with Ambassador Rice, as well as the other (inaudible) the P5-plus-1. The meeting today is another sign of international unity on this issue. It’s also I think a strong indication of the way in which the U.S. and China are working together in a positive way on Iran and other issues.
The other issue that occupied obviously discussion was the economic situation, the global economic situation. The President reaffirmed his view that it is important for a global and sustained -- sustained and balanced global economic recovery that China move toward a more market-oriented exchange rate -- would have to be an essential contribution to that objective.
The President also noted his concern over some market access issues, market access barriers, in China and the need to address them as part of the rebalancing effort. That's all I'll say by way of introduction.
One other thing, if I could -- excuse me. At 3:30 p.m. the meeting broke for one minute. President Obama told President Hu about the tragedy in West Virginia, the loss of our miners. And he called for a moment of silence for us to think about those miners who lost their lives in West Virginia. He also noted that in the last 10 days, 85 miners lost their lives in Shanxi province in China; asked that we remember them, as well. And both delegations, led by President Obama and President Hu, stood for a minute of silence.
MR. GIBBS: Let’s do a couple questions, but we've got to go because we’re late.
Q Just a real quick one. To be clear, the Chinese have given their commitment to some form of sanctions? Is that the takeaway from this?
MR. BADER: The Chinese agreed that -- the two Presidents agreed that the two delegations should work on a sanctions resolution in New York, and that's what we’re doing.
Q But they haven’t agreed to anything specific yet?
MR. BADER: We are going to be -- we’ve started to work that and we’re going to be working on that in the coming days -- coming days and weeks.
Q Any sense on timing on that -- weeks instead of months?
MR. RHODES: I can say, Jeff, first, that you’ve heard the President say that we expect a resolution this spring, which will be a matter of weeks. And so he believes that we need to move forward with urgency to get that done.
Jeff can speak to the Chinese part of this. I'll just say that President Medvedev and President Obama both, I think you saw, shared a sense of an agreement about the need for strong sanctions and urgency about moving forward. But, Jeff, do you want to speak to the Chinese piece of this?
MR. BADER: I'd just say that the President in the meeting made clear the sense of urgency, and the Chinese made clear that they are prepared to work with us.
Q Jeff, can I ask you if the issue of climate change came up in the meeting? And also on the currency, what did the Chinese say in response to that? And also, was there any talk of the deadline on the sanctions -- I mean, on the currency?
MR. BADER: Well, on climate change, it did not come up. Time simply ran out and we were not able to. We would have loved to have discussed it but time is always a problem in these meetings.
On the Chinese response on RMB, I think you have to talk to the Chinese about their position on that. I'd rather not get into characterizing the Chinese position.
And I’m sorry, was there a third question?
Q Oh, just about the deadline that you just postponed for labeling them a currency manipulator or not labeling them a currency manipulator -- did that issue come up?
MR. BADER: The rebalancing issue was discussed. I'd rather not get beyond what the President has said on the subject, but --
MR. GIBBS: I’d point you to what Secretary Geithner has said about that in his statement about the report.
Hey, Jeff, we’re going to get these guys loaded back up. Thank you.
4:40 P.M. EDT