WRAPUP 1-Trade, economy top agenda as China's Xi meets U.S.'s Lew

Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:33am EDT
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By Anna Yukhananov and Aileen Wang

BEIJING, March 19 (Reuters) - China and the United States put trade and economic issues at the top of their diplomatic agenda as President Xi Jinping met U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday and called for the two sides to focus on shared interests rather than differences.

The two men stuck resolutely to diplomatic niceties in front of the watching media ahead of what was, for both, their first major international meeting since taking their respective offices.

A U.S. official said in an e-mailed statement that the meeting itself was a 45-minute strategic level discussion of the major issues on the bilateral agenda including currencies, Europe and the global economy, intellectual property, cyber-security and North Korea, in which Lew was "candid and direct."

China's official Xinhua news agency in a commentary - which are not policy statements but typically reflect government thinking - said Lew should use his visit to convince Beijing that Washington would solve its debt problems, stabilise the value of the dollar and honour trade treaty commitments.

"The stakes are high," the commentary said, striking a more hawkish tone than Xi.

"I can say we have a seamless connection," China's new president said, speaking in front of a tapestry depicting a pine tree and flying cranes, both symbols of hospitality.

"In the China-U.S. relationship we have enormous shared interests, but of course unavoidably we have some differences."

Lew said both countries had a responsibility to promote global growth, and called on China to boost domestic demand to help in global rebalancing.   Continued...