Amid a sudden upswing in relations, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao sought common ground Monday on Iran, instructing their respective diplomats to work on a set of potential sanctions to make clear to Iran the cost of continued nuclear defiance, a White House official said.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of a US-hosted summit on nuclear proliferation.
White House national security aide Jeff Bader said Iran was a major topic of discussion at the hour-and-a-half long session between Obama and his Chinese counterpart.
Obama and Hu (Photo: AFP)
"They're prepared to work with us," Bader said. He called it another sign of international unity on the subject.
The upbeat tone reflected a recent warming of US-Chinese diplomatic ties.
Still, Bader's remarks echoed recent comments from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and others that the Chinese are now willing to talk turkey on sanctions, although nothing about a specific commitment.
They started working on language at the UN last week.
Most of the meeting was on Iran, Bader said, although the two leaders did talk about currency briefly, with Obama reiterating his view that there needs to be "a more market-oriented exchange rate."
US manufacturers claim China keeps its currency pegged to the dollar to make its exports cheaper. However, China has given signs in recent days of moving toward allowing its currency to rise.
Bader called it a "positive and constructive" meeting, "a meeting without talking points" involving leaders who are "familiar and comfortable with each other."
He said the two leaders did break for a moment of silence to honor the 29 US miners killed last week in the state of West Virginia in the worst US coal mining disaster since 1970.